Thursday, August 29, 2013

I should probably start coming to terms with turning 30

It's true y'all.  I'm getting old-ish.  On March 7th, I'll turn the big 3-0!  Yes, I realize that March 7th is still more than 6 months away, 27 weeks away to be exact!  But, I fear that it might take me awhile to make my peace with that "3" in the front of my age.

So, to commemorate 29.5 years of being a fraid cat such a momentous occasion, I'm going to embark on a journey to have 30 fun and exciting new experiences, one each week, until I turn 30.
Given that there are actually only 27 weeks to my birthday, I'm going to have to play a little catch-up or do a couple two-in-one-week posts.  However, the whole "30-things-30-weeks-30-years-old"thing was too catchy to pass up over a little something like timing.

I've thought of some of the things that I'd really like to do in the next 27 weeks, but I haven't thought of all yet.  Just a few that I've thought of:
  1. Rappelling
  2. Aerial or Antigravity Yoga
  3. Visit the Las Vegas Neon Museum
  4. Go to a Cirque Du Soleil
  5. Break 5 hours in a marathon
  6. Trapeze
  7. Actually train for and complete a sprint triathlon 1:30:00 or less (this might be ambitious).

So, here are my most recent New Experiences:
I posted about it here, but it was an absolute blast!  
SUP is something I've wanted to try for awhile and it became a must-do after I saw the ladies of SUP Vancouver cheering along the course of the Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon.  I'll definitely do this again and, I hope to try Standup Paddleboard Yoga as one of my future New Experiences.
I talked about Yoga probably for the first time on the blog after SeaWheeze.  There's a reason for that.  I haven't done yoga in years.  And even when I did yoga years ago, I was never a regular.  I've never been exactly what you would call flexible.  I have a pretty embarrassing and unhealthy lack of dedication to stretching in general.  So, I've made it my mission to start going to a Yoga class at 24 hour fitness or do a yoga youtube video or dvd at least once per week.
just a little tree pose at the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube
(professional yogini, I am not - but, hey, I'm trying)
Since coming home from Hawaii, I've done at least one yoga class each week and at least one other night of youtube yoga.  I really like the feeling of strength and lengthening that you get from the poses and the feeling of peace and serenity from the meditation at the end.  I really sincerely hope to make yoga a regular part of my workout regimen.  So far so good.

Do you do anything to commemorate your major birthday milestones?

Any suggestions for things that I absolutely must do before I turn 30?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Saying good-bye to Kona and welcoming the real world

Well, folks, it is almost time for me to move on with my life and stop invading your homes with my incessant talk of the paradise known as Hawaii.  I promise, this is the last post that is entirely dedicated to one of the best vacations we've ever taken.

After we got home from our awesome paddleboarding day, we were forced to face the music of our last day in paradise before returning to reality in the desert.  Fortunately, our flight didn't leave until late evening, so we had the whole day to take in a little more of the Big Island.

After checking out of the hotel, we took off toward Hilo (the biggest town on the east coast of the island) via Saddle Road.  Saddle Road gets its name because you climb up to the saddle between Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest peak and Muana Loa, Hawaii's second tallest peak.  We drove from approximately sea level to more than 9000 feet in elevation!

On the other side of the saddle, the scenery changed from the arid, tropical desert on the western side of the island to a lush, tropical rain forest on the eastern side.

Our first real stop of the day was the Kaumana Lava Tube.  To get down into the caves, you had to walk down these steep stairs into a sea of green foliage.
Once at the bottom of the stairs, you can choose to go to the left or the right; there are caverns of the lava tube in both directions.  We explored both, but went to the right first.  The right side is much more obvious, but trust me, there is another cave that is equally, if not more, fun to explore to the left.
Lava tube to the right of the stairs
However, flashlights or headlamps are key to enjoying this lava tube.  Unlike the Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes National Park, this lava tube is not lit and does not have a nice, neat, and even path carved out.  So, basically, watch your step....especially, if you my impressive level of coordination, you're likely to break an ankle.
Oh yeah, it was raining almost the entire day.  So much humidity, my normally straight as an arrow hair actually had natural curl!! What?!
After the lava tube, we moved on to see our first waterfall:  Rainbow Falls.  With the exception of Niagara Falls, of course, this was probably the most impressive and beautiful waterfall I've ever seen.  Everything was so green!  Being able to experience the beauty made it almost worth dealing with the rain all day.  I mean, they call it a RAIN forest for a reason....
There were so many possible waterfalls to enjoy along the way.  Unfortunately, it just wouldn't stop raining, so we didn't get out and enjoy all of the waterfalls, but we did enjoy one other fall that was around the corner from Rainbow Falls (I just can't remember the name....)
Probably the worst pic ever, but hey, it was pouring!
Look how responsible I was to remember to bring my rain jacket!
After the falls, we drove into Hilo to find some food...I was starting to get pretty hangry.  We decided to stop at Short n Sweet Bakery & Cafe.  One word:  AMAZING.  Seriously, if you go to Hilo, eat here and eat a lot.
This place was legit.  Apparently, they're known for making beautiful cakes.  In fact, there was a sign indicating that apparently, Short n Sweet won an award in 2010 from Brides Magazine in the category of "America's Most Beautiful Cakes.  I ordered the Pesto panini on house made wheat ciabatta.  Mind blowing.  
I also got a slice of the Passion Fruit Cheesecake (top left delicacy in the picture of the pastry display case) and a bacon fudge brownie (not shown, but rest assured, it was heavenly).

After lunch, we decided to drive around the north end of the island and head back to Kona and the airport.  It was beautiful scenery, but it rained the entire time until we reached Waimea and started heading back south.  I'm not going to lie, but by this time, all the rain and driving had made both of us pretty cranky.  However, we were quickly cheered by our discovery of the other-worldly Tropical Dreams Ice Cream.
Mango, Passion Fruit & Pineapple - the pineapple sorbet has ruined me!  Where can I find this on the mainland?  Someone please help?!?!!
Our moods were also improved when we saw this Double Rainbow (haha - have you seen that youtube video? or the auto-tuned version?)
After that, we drove straight back to Kona, filled up with gas at Costco, and went to the airport.  We had to say our final good-byes to rain forests, lava fields, waterfalls, fresh tropical food, and beaches with sand every color of the rainbow.
The Kona airport was so adorable.  It was all outdoors with just a series of cute, tropical huts for gates!  The little hut in the picture is our gate and the plane in the picture is the plane that took us to Honolulu.
We flew from Kona to Honolulu and then, at 10:35pm Honolulu time, we boarded a giant plane to take us back to the mainland, or as the Hawaiians like to call Las Vegas, "the Ninth Island."  We arrived in Vegas around 7:30am in the morning and went home and slept allllllllll day.  It was glorious.  Around 9pm, we finally decided to venture out and get some dinner.  We decided to get burgers and the most delicious fries in the world at Strip Burger (zOMG delicious)!
Even though I've lived here for a year, it still weirds me out sometimes that I live in Vegas.
That was our trip!  If I'm being completely honest, it is kind of nice to be back in my normal schedule.  Now it's time to go back to normal life and normal blogging!!

Would the pouring rain stop you from exploring the rain forest?

Are you a sorbet fan?  Or do you prefer the creamier types of ice cream?  
     (I'm normally not a huge fan of sorbets, but my mouth is literally watering for that pineapple sorbet.)

Any vacations coming up for you?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

That day that I displayed my abundance of coordination - Hawaii Part 2 of 3

I've officially been away from Hawaii for a whole week.  It is horrible.  Is it time to go back yet?  Maybe I should just take the Hawaii bar and move there?  Probably not.  I complain about being far from my family here where I'm a mere two time zones and 1,506 miles away from my parents.  Hawaii is a little bit further.  I don't think that will work for me.

I digress.  The point is, I really enjoyed our trip to Hawaii and I really want to share a couple about a thousand more images from the trip.

If you remember, we got home from our tour of the island extremely late (the time change didn't help).  So, obviously, we slept super late the next day.  We finally managed to tear ourselves away from the bed about 45 minutes before they stopped serving breakfast.
Look how healthy I am!! (just ignore that sugar-covered, fried dough over there)
Trust me, I ate way more that the malasada, cottage cheese, and honey dew melon.  I just didn't want to make you sick by showing you the volume of unhealthy food that I ate prior to this plate.

After breakfast, we were still so wiped that we had a super lazy day.  We just chilled in our hotel room, laid around other areas of the resort, and then ran a few errands.  Later, we had a super gourmet dinner...foot-long sandwiches from Subway.

While we were being lazy, we created a plan for our remaining time in Hawaii.  Specifically, we decided that the next day (Thursday), we'd venture down to Kona and try our hand (and legs) at Stand Up Paddleboarding.  When we first started researching, we were a little frustrated with how expensive renting these things were.  However, then we found Ocean Safaris!
Their rental rates were much more reasonable ($25 for 2 hours) as were their rates for a lesson ($60).  The thing I loved most was that when we called the company, not only did they inform us that we didn't need to make a reservation for the paddleboard rental, they also advised us that a lesson would be a waste of our money because it really was very simple to pick up and the attendant at the beach would show us what we needed to know in 5 minutes.  Awesome, right?!  I'm always pleasantly surprised when I encounter a company that doesn't try to up-sell me!

We arrived at the somewhat secluded and awesomely uncrowded Keauhou Bay.
At this location, Ocean Safaris literally consists of a dude sitting in a beach chair hanging out with his dog.  That's who you pay to rent the paddleboard.  Of course, he doesn't have a machine to take credit cards, so we had to buzz over to a shopping center to find an ATM before we could begin our paddleboarding adventure.  After getting cash, we were walking back to the car and passed some lovely ladies associated with the Keauhou Kahalu'u Heritage Center who made me a beautiful lei!  I really love wearing fresh tropical flowers around my neck =)
Then, it was back to the Bay.  (Once we got back, I realized that my lei would not survive long sitting in the car while we were paddleboarding, so I decided to rock the lei while paddleboarding).
The lady on the phone was right.  Stand up paddleboarding is actually not that difficult.  Don't get me wrong, I lost my balance and fell in the water twice.  In fact, each time I fell, part of the lei would break off and there would be a beautiful flower memorial of where my grace and dignity died a little.  

Adam was probably better than me.  He was faster and only fell once; I fell twice.  However, it is important to note that, even though I fell more, Adam fell first.  (By the way, thank god the paddles float)

We paddleboarded for about an hour.  It was a pretty decent core workout, but it was still relaxing.  It was really, really enjoyable and I've been trying to convince myself ever since that I wouldn't use a paddleboard enough on Lake Mead to justify buying one.......which, is totally true, but I still want to buy one.  Irrational, I know.  I haven't purchased one yet, so I'll count that as a win.

After we left Keauhou Bay, we drove through Kona, grabbed more gourmet food (panda express), and then I convinced Husband to walk through the International Market with me.  
These flowers were on all the trees in the parking lot of the International Market.  I took approximately 37 pictures of these trees; the local flora is just so exquisite.
The International Market was pretty noneventful, but we did purchase a few delicious Hawaiian/tripical type treats: (1) Pan de Coco; (2) Maui Onion potato chips; and (3) Macadamia Nut Hershey Kisses.  
I must say, the Pan de Coco was .... just .... woah.
Have you noticed how much I love carbs?  It's ..... problematic....
So, the bread was the hawaiian sweet bread that I know and love.  But, when you bite into the roll, there is this delicious coconut filling.  I have a pretty serious coconut addiction at this point, and that's ok.

On our drive back from Kona, we noticed that there were a lot of cars on the side of the road around mile marker 91 and lots of people walking around on a lava field.  We realized that there was a giant lava tube.  We started to walk into it, but then realized that this was a really long lava tube that had a series of cave-ins, so we got a little nervous and decided not to venture any further.
After the drive back to Waikoloa Village, we were boring the rest of the afternoon/evening.  Just more hanging out by the pool.  It was perfect.  After this vacation, I have new found appreciation for just chilling by a pool and reading.  While in Hawaii, I finished Ender's Game.  Phenomenal book.  It may not be a "girly" book (it is sci-fi after all), but I kinda can't imagine anyone not finding this book incredibly interesting and thought provoking.  Also, it is coming out in theaters in November, so at the very least, you should see the movie.  But, really, you should read the book before you see the movie.

If you were in Hawaii, what would be the first thing you wanted to eat?

Have you ever tried stand up paddleboarding?  

Have you read Ender's Game?  What are you reading right now?


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

That day that we explored Hawaii and nearly died from exhaustion =)

It is Wednesday, and I've been forced to face the fact that my life no longer involves me and my husband chilling on beaches in Hawaii.  However, to ease myself back into the real world, I've been spending a lot of time reminiscing about our week in paradise.
Disclaimer:  These recap posts are going to be a bit long...but they mostly consist of beautiful pictures.  Feel free to scroll through, see the beautiful sites, and then plan a vacation that is exactly like ours because it was basically perfect.  I mean it, once you see these pictures, you're totally going to want to go to the Big Island and do everything that we did.

Trust me, our first day on the Big Island was *very* glamorous.  We landed in Kona around 8:30am.
Isn't my husband the sweetest?  He arranged for me to receive a lei before we even picked up my bag from baggage claim!!
Once we left the airport, we proceeded to hang out in the Costco parking lot until it opened at 10am.  After stocking up on the necessary provisions (Malibu, chocolate, and sunscreen), we headed to our hotel, the Hilton at Waikoloa Beach.  We were there waaaayyyyy before check-in and we were super grateful that they had a room available.  After spending the night on a plane, I definitely needed a nap...and, dang, it was an epic nap.

We finally convinced ourselves to get out of bed and explore the resort, grab some much needed food, and of course, we had to go for a little swim.  Before we knew it, the sun was setting.
I really love sunsets, especially, Hawaiian sunsets.
With the time change, we ended up going to bed super early.  It actually worked out well because it enabled us to get up early the next morning and embark upon our first full day in Hawaii.  In fact, we pretty much woke up with the sun, mostly because of the time change, but also because our room was east-facing.  As we left, we headed south toward Kona and beyond.  We quickly realized that this island is HUGE!!

It really is such a beautiful island and I wanted to stop so many places.  However, because the island is so big, I had to prioritize.  So, we drove for a couple hours to a place near the very southern point of the island before we made our first stop.

My first observation about this end of the island:  Holy cow it was WINDY!!  The wind was so relentless, the trees literally grow to the side.  If you look closely, you'll see that those trees aren't just leaning in the wind.  The wind always blows westward, so the trees just grow leaning west.
You know how models look effortlessly beautify with windblown hair?
Yeah, that wasn't me.  Not even close.
Our objective in stopping here was the Papakolea Beach and its GREEN sand!  This is one of only four green sand beaches in the world!!  However, you can't get all the way to the beach in a 2-wheel drive vehicle.  There were a bunch of locals with four-wheel drive vehicles that would drive you the 2+ miles to the beach for a small fee.  However, we're cheap awesome, so we decided to do the ~4.5 mile round-trip hike.  

We even had the opportunity to do some minor scrambling down to the beach!
Even though the entire hike to the beach is completely into the wind, the hike was lovely and the destination was totally worth it!
The sand was so uniquely green.  Geology Lesson:  Apparently, the green sand comes from erosion by the ocean of a stronghold of olivet mineral that is underwater as a result of volcanic eruptions.  Eventually, the ocean erodes the underwater rocks and the crystalline olivet dust ends up on the beach and, voila, you have a green sand beach!  
I had to really resist the temptation to take a sample of this amazing sand home; the olivet mineral is in limited supply and the green hue of this beach will probably eventually disappear.

On our way back, we found another random patch of the green sand that was even more green than at the beach. 
This area was almost as cool as the actual beach!  Adam was checking out one of the tide pools and found his new friend, the hermit crab.  The thing was crawling all over Adam's hand and arm.  It would have freaked me out.  Of course, he put it back where he found it before we continued our hike back to the car.
After we got back to our car, we continued around the southern end of the island to the east coast of the island.  We took a quick lunch break before heading to the Punaluu Black Sand Beach.  The black sand was bizarre and beautiful and surprisingly soft.  
We also were thrilled to find two sea turtles feeding on algae in a large tide pool.  If I'm being honest, Adam realized that the first turtle shell was more than just a rock.  That being said, I was the one that realized there were actually two turtles.  It was an incredible experience being so close to them.
After I pried myself away from the turtles, we washed off the remaining dirt from the Green Sand Beach hike, and headed to the car.
Adam didn't fully dry his feet before heading to the car and the sand stuck.  Doesn't it look like he's wearing a black sock?!
Our last major stop was the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  One of the volcanoes, Kilauea, has been pretty much continuously erupting since before I was born!!  Sometimes the lava flows on the surface of the land, but a lot of times, the lave is actually flowing towards the sea underground.  I'm going to convey my disappointment up front that we didn't get to see any flowing lava =(  We did, however, get to see the smoking crater.
Another cool phenomenon in the park were the Steam Vents
These steam vents occur when water seeps into the ground and, underground, the lava has heated the environment to the point that this water escapes as steam.  It is incredible.  When you get close to a vent, it feels like a steam window. 

Our last stop in the park was the Thurston Lava Tube.  
Basically, a lava tube is the underground plumbing of an eruption.  The lava flows underground and, sometimes, the outsides of this flow will cool and harden, creating a ceiling and walls, while the lava inside continues to flow/drain.  Once the eruption is completed and the rock cools, you're left with these cave like channels.

The whole day was beautiful.  I really enjoyed walking on beaches and through rainforests.
Eventually, we went in desperate search of sustenance.  I decided to try a local favorite: a pork Loco Moco.
Two scoops of white sticky rice topped with pulled pork, brown gravy and two fried eggs.  I wouldn't say it was delicious.  It wasn't bad either.  It was interesting.  I think this would be MUCH more delicious if it had the white, country gravy that comes with biscuits and gravy, rather than brown gravy.  Maybe I'll make it that way myself sometime.  Sounds healthy, no? ;-)

By the time we finished eating, it was after 9pm.  However, because our bodies hadn't adjusted to the time change, it felt WAAAYYY later.  We had a looooooooong and windy drive back to the West Coast of the Island and our hotel.  I'd rather not relive the night.  We were both exhausted.  Staying awake was a struggle.

What is your favorite beach that you've ever visited?

Would you try a Loco Moco?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Taking a break from the vacation recap for a VERY important announcement!!

This is going to be kind of short - we have some Hawaii to see!  It's our last day here!!  However, I had to take a timeout to post something about this special day!

"I've found my missin' piece
So grease my knees and fleece my bees
I've found my missin' piece!"
- Shel Silverstein

I have made no secret of the fact that Husband and I are on VACATION right now!!  As opposed to the 1,675,483 times that I mentioned our trip to Vancouver & Hawaii, I think I only mentioned a half a dozen times that we planned this trip to celebrate our 5-year wedding anniversary.  

Well, today is the day.  

We had a very special day on this day, five years ago.  We were in little ole Ottumwa, Iowa in the church that I attended since I was four, and we were surrounded by friends and family.  It was a super busy/hectic weekend, but it was just lovely.  On that day, I married my best friend.
Husband always says that it feels like he's been married "forever."  He also swears that he means that in a sincerely, loving way; he says that he just means that he can't imagine not being married.  I think I understand what he means?  To me, it seems like our wedding was just yesterday.  On the other hand, five years is a long time (~1/6 of my life) and so much has happened since our wedding.  For example, our first anniversary was the night before my law school, lucky for Husband, I spent the day in bed, freaking out and wondering if law school was going to be a HUGE mistake.

Finally, today is two-for-the-price-of-one Shel Silverstein poems.  I really liked this one because it may be the secret to a successful marriage.
"Tell me I'm clever, 
Tell me I'm kind, 
Tell me I'm talented, 
Tell me I'm cute,
Tell me I'm sensitive, 
Graceful and Wise
Tell me I'm perfect --
But tell me the TRUTH."
- Shel Silverstein, Falling UP

What's your favorite way to celebrate?  
       (I think we're going to get some awesome ice cream this afternoon. We're party animals, obviously)

Did you read Shel Silverstein as a kid?
     (Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends are my faves)