Kauai: Trip 3 – Day 2

Day two started out with all of us being just a bit sore (maybe not so much Kyle) but the rest of us were feeling it. We made coffee and breakfast and then set out to explore! Our day consisted of checking out the the rocks at the end of the beach that had all sorts of things growing on them, walking the beach and visiting the caves at the end, lounging around camp (including in our tents when it decided to start raining) and then enjoying another beautiful sunset on the beach after it rained. We finished the evening by enjoying the stars. They were absolutely breathtaking. We also made friends with a black kitten. It took everything I had to not take him home with me. ❤

Kauai: Trip 3 – Day 1

A few weeks ago, my cousins Bailey and Kyle came to visit Josh and I. It was deja vu as four years ago they came to visit to celebrate Kyle’s graduation from high school and Bailey’s graduation from college. This time, it was Kyle celebrating graduation from college and Bailey celebrating graduating with her PhD.

They spent a couple weeks each on Oahu, but the highlight of their visit for all of us was hiking the Kalalau trail. This would be the hike that Josh and I did as our first date here he tried to kill me. It rained the entire time, which made crossing three rivers rather interesting and terrifying. Luckily, this time we didn’t run into that issue!

We spent the days before buying supplies, organizing our packs and making sure we had everything we needed.

We left on Thursday evening and checked into our Airbnb in Princeville. It was close to the trail so we didn’t have to drive too far on Friday morning to get started. We ate dinner at Barrel Chicken in Hanalei and then prepared for the next day.

We got up at 3:30 AM to have coffee, finish packing and arrive at the trail early. It was dark out when we started so we were able to enjoy the sunrise.

We made it to the first river and I was happy to find that I could hop along rocks to cross (very different than the last time). We made friends with a rooster who decided to cross it with us.

Around mile 6 we made it to the second river and stopped to have a snack. I also changed shoes as my feet were killing me. We were really psyching ourselves up for mile 7 and crawler’s ledge. Good news, is it was not as bad as we thought it might be!

We finally made it! The last three miles seemed to take days. But we crossed the final river and spotted the beach. We set up camp, then went to the waterfall at the end of the beach to refill water, made dinner and enjoyed the most incredible sunset ever on the beach. Not bad for the first day!

 

Molokai: Trip 3 – Day 2

On our first full day on Molokai we woke up to our incredible view of Maui. We sat and enjoyed coffee on our lanai and listened to the ocean. Quite the way to start our day!

Our morning view.

After a our leisurely start, we packed up the car to drive towards Halawa Valley. Our first stop was Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, another Saint Damien church.

It started raining on us, so we got back in the car and continued on our journey! The drive there was breathtaking and as we got closer, it stopped raining and we had a great view of the Halawa Falls.

We arrived in Halawa Valley and headed to Kalani’s Farm. We chatted with him for a bit and then we were able to sign waivers and hike to the falls since we had already gone on a tour with him a few years ago. We had the trail to ourselves for almost the entire way. Unfortunately for me, there were a ton of spiders (which I do not remember from the last time) so Josh took the lead and was in charge of knocking down webs. We made it to the river crossing but it was still flowing pretty fast. We decided to play it safe and head back. Sad we didn’t make it to the falls but it was a gorgeous hike.

When we got back to the farm, Kalani showed us some of his flowers and gave us two different types of bananas…which turned into an incident for Josh. One of Kalani’s ducks saw that we had bananas and she started racing towards Josh (apparently they are her favorite thing). This turned into Josh running from the duck and her flying at him (I was in tears). We went ahead and shared some with her :).

We were ready for lunch after our hike so we stopped at Manae Goods & Grindz for the best chicken katsu I’ve ever had. We ate lunch and then went back to our place to change and prepare for the rest of our afternoon.

After lunch, we drove to the West side of the island to show Linda around. Our final stop of the day was Papohaku Beach for sunset. Once again we had the beach to ourselves. The waves break really late here so Josh spent most of the time chasing the perfect picture. He did an awesome job (please see his work below 🙂 ).

Our first full day was packed and we were exhausted. We reluctantly left the beach for our long drive back. We weren’t super hungry due to our late lunch, so we stopped in Kaunakakai for some ice cream for dinner (my type of dinner). Great way to end our day!

Oahu 2016

Only about four months late in posting this, but Josh and I went back to Hawaii for his spring break in March. After a long flight, we got some poke and then crashed.

The next day I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club. It was so wonderful to see how much the kids have grown and for them all to jump up to ask to be in my group for the field trip. Oh how I missed them! After a day full of volunteering, we headed to the Farmers’ Market for dinner.

Friday I was off for a day at the beach with the kids. Unfortunately it ended up being a rather rainy day so we headed back a bit early. After volunteering, we tried Uahai Island Grill for dinner (new place for us!).

On Saturday we met up with my dear friend Jenn in Diamond Head for some lunch and an açai bowl. We decided to drive around the island and dream about where we would live when we moved back on day. We finished the day with my favorite, shabu shabu!

Sunday we headed up to the North Shore to watch the waves. First stop, was Giovanni’s for shrimp. After stuffing ourselves, we sat on the beach and watched the waves and just relaxed. We tried Tokoname (recommended by our Airbnb hostess) for dinner — another new place for us!

Monday was my last day to volunteer and we spent it at the clubhouse doing crafts. Always so hard to say goodbye! For dinner, we met our friends Tia and Mark to catch up!

Tuesday I finally had some time to hike (and it was of course raining). To wait out the rain, we had Lanikai juice for breakfast and just relaxed. After being stuck inside, we ventured out for lunch at Buzz’s Lani Kai. It finally stopped raining, so we did a quick hike to Makapu’u Lighthouse. I’ve done this more times than I can count and it never gets old.

Wednesday we got to hike the Pāli Puka! This had been on our list when we lived there but we were never able to complete it. The views were absolutely gorgeous (helped that we had a perfect day as well). For lunch, we went to Kalapawai cafe in Kailua then home to shower for a night in Waikiki.

On our last full day, we hiked up to Lanikai pillboxes. It was SUPER hot and incredibly crowded. We treated ourselves to a poke bowl as a reward for lunch and went to hang out on the beach. We packed up to leave on Friday and then went to the Farmers’ Market for dinner to meet some friends.

On our last day, we packed up and checked out of our Airbnb. Our last meal was shabu shabu (of course).

And with that, another Hawaii trip in the books! A hui ho!

Oahu: Part 4

Thursday was our North Shore day. Our tentative plan was to stop at some of our favorite places (for both food and scenery). First stop was Giovanni’s shrimp shack in Kahuku…quickly followed by delicious corn on the cob.

We continued on to Haleiwa..and along the way we stopped at one of the beaches for our third monk seal sighting of the trip!

We made it to Haleiwa (which has changed quite a bit..new shops, restaurants, etc). Even with all of the new stuff to choose from, we decided to share a Matsumoto’s Shave Ice.

Cherry, Grape and Pineapple

Cherry, Grape and Pineapple

After walking around and enjoying Haleiwa, we started our way back to town. On our drive back we saw yet ANOTHER monk seal..making our total for the trip four! Which is a lot considering they are critically endangered with about 1,100 left. We also got a glimpse of Sacred Falls on our drive back!

We made it home to shower, change and make the sunset at the Tantalus lookout. It was a bit cloudy, but we still got some great pictures.

After a beautiful sunset, we met Kevin, Saki and Kion (Kevin is Josh’s friend from the Marines) for dinner at Sweet Home Cafe. The restaurant is a Taiwanese-style hot pot and shave ice place. It was absolutely delicious!

On Friday, our last full day there, we hiked the Hanauma Bay ridge. This was another new hike for us and it completely blew away all of our expectations. It was a gorgeous day and we could once again see Molokai, Maui and Lanai. I think the pictures will do a better job of describing how gorgeous it was! The waves were quit insane…Josh took an awesome video!

After that incredible hike, we drove around the east side of the island for the last time and got some poke at Hibachi again in Kailua.

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After my last poke bowl, we went back to our apartment to shower, change and get ready for dinner at Duke’s!

On our last day (so sad), we checked out of our airbnb at 10:00 AM and went to Diamond Head Cove Health Bar for one last açai bowl.

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After enjoying the deliciousness, we drove around the area a bit checking out all of the cool houses and then had an early lunch of Shabu Shabu (my fave).

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We then headed to the airport to catch our flight. It was absolutely amazing to be back and Josh and I left there even more determined to do our best to live there again one day (especially since it was 43 degrees and raining when we landed in Chicago). I am so thankful we were able to go back and see our friends, get outside after SUCH a long winter and enjoy some of our favorite foods! 🙂

Oahu: Part 2

After a couple days of volunteering, it was the weekend and time for some hiking! Our goal was to do some of the hikes that we didn’t get to do while we lived there. The first one we started with was the South trail to Kaena Point. We had taken the North trail a few times but hadn’t ever explored the South side. Our drive there was stunning. It was our first time to that side of the island and neither of us realized how pretty it was!

After a pretty awesome trip to Kaena Point, we were both starving and went straight to get some poke at our favorite – Ono Seafood.

Poke!

Poke!

We went back to the apartment and showered before deciding what to do for the evening. We decided on eating at House Without a Key at the Halekulani hotel in Waikiki. We sat outside and enjoyed the amazing weather and a really great meal to end our day!

The next day, we got up and hiked Kuli’ou’ou Ridge. This is one of our favorite hikes on the island and we were really excited to get to hike it again. The view of the Windward coast at the top of a hike never gets old!

After the hike, we got lunch near Diamond Head at Bogarts and then had my favorite açai bowl from Diamond Head Cove Health Bar.

So delicious!

So delicious!

After a shower, I met some friends from BGCH for dinner at Side Street Inn while Josh did homework. We tried tons of different food as it was family style. So fun!

On Monday, we had a laundry day and then met Andy and Anna at Bellows beach to hang out. I sadly didn’t take any pictures at the beach…too much fun catching up! A great way to end our long weekend!

Hawaii: A Year In Review

I’m not even sure how to begin this last post…

When I made the decision to move to Hawaii, there were a lot of things that factored into my decision – seeing where my relationship with Josh would go, needing to feel like I was giving back and doing my part to (as cliche as this sounds) make the world a better place, and learning to let go and not necessarily have a plan for every single second of my life. Not only was this past year a success in achieving those goals, but it far exceeded any expectations I could have ever dreamed of.

First, I learned many things about myself that I didn’t necessarily even think about before moving. For example, I knew I took pride in my job and felt strongly about giving 110% at every aspect of it. I also knew that it contributed to my overall confidence in myself. But what I didn’t realize is how MUCH confidence I drew from having a successful career. Leaving a great job at a company where I felt valued and loved was definitely a leap that I was not fully prepared for mentally, even though I thought I was. By taking this step and a break from my traditional career, I learned that it was necessary for me to find confidence in myself in other ways. This has continued to be a struggle for me throughout the year, but I feel like I have overcome needing a successful job in my life to make me feel complete. Moving forward, a successful job and a growing career will be an amazing added bonus in my life, but not play SUCH a large part in defining who I am. Looking forward, I believe this will be important in grounding me and staying true to the person I want to be.

Second, I decided to tackle one of my greatest fears in life: the ocean. Since I was little, I have been afraid to even wade into the ocean off the beach. I started small by sticking my feet in the water and then slowly spending more time by the ocean on the beach. The turning point: we had a field trip this summer to Hanauma Bay with the kids to go snorkeling. This was the first time I had been snorkeling in about ten years (both times previously I completely panicked and had to get out of the water). My kids wanted me to go snorkeling so badly that they practically drug me into the water in a group, promising me that I would be ok because they would be with me the whole time (one of them even holding my hand). It was then that I realized, surrounded by eight year olds, that this was a fear I could probably overcome. So after a few more snorkeling trips, swimming in the ocean and just getting comfortable in the water, I decided it was time for the ultimate test: getting my PADI Open Water Diver certification. It was one of the best things I have done and I cannot wait for my next dive! If you had told me a year ago that I would be certified to scuba dive, I would have responded that you were completely insane.

As for the things I wanted to focus on for the year, finding a job where I could feel like I was making a difference was one of the first things I started working on when I moved. Finding my job at the Windward Boys and Girls Club was one of the biggest blessings I have ever received in my life. I could not even begin to put into words what those children did for my soul. They taught me so many things – from telling me how to pronounce words in the Hawaiian language, to reminding me to be thankful that I grew up with a loving family who encouraged and believed in me, and most importantly teaching me that I had more patience than I ever thought possible :). My heart breaks leaving them, but I know they have the most amazing people there to support them!

Learning to let go and not have a plan may have turned out to be the biggest challenge of all. Dating someone in the military ensures that you are never able to have a plan for anything. When I moved, I thought Josh and I had a tentative plan of heading back to the mainland together in December to see where our lives would take us next. However, that all changed with one email in July informing Josh that he would be staying in the Marines for an additional six months. And on top of that, he came home the next day to tell me they decided he would be deploying in November. I still struggle with not having a plan for everything, but it has been VERY good for me to learn that even without a plan things will work out and be ok. However, I am realistic enough to know that this will forever be a struggle of mine.

And finally, my relationship with Josh. I really do not know where to begin with that! We have experienced more adventure in a year than many relationships do in a lifetime! We traveled to all of the Hawaiian islands that you can visit, experiencing multiple things that I didn’t even know were possible. To name a few: standing three feet away from flowing lava, being in a cage surrounded by sharks, being a couple of yards from humpback whales on a boat that they could easily capsize in seconds, multiple encounters with dolphins in their natural environment, snorkeling at too many places to count, riding donkeys down an incredibly high sea cliff, viewing a million waterfalls, too many breathtaking sunrises and sunsets to count, horseback riding down to a crater floor, driving on countless narrow one-lane roads with multiple hairpin turns, hiking to our hearts’ content, off-roading adventures and hundreds of stunning views that instantly make you silently in awe. I cannot imagine anyone else I would have wanted to experience the year with. On top of all of that, getting engaged in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. When I moved here, I had an idea that Josh was a pretty wonderful person that I’d want to keep around for awhile, but I wanted to make sure. Turns out, I was correct. It has been a year of many challenges and a lot of growth in our relationship, but this year has given us a pretty solid foundation for whatever life throws at us!

This has been the fastest year of my life and it is hard to imagine leaving such a special place. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and believed in my adventure: family, old and new friends, coworkers from multiple jobs and of course, Josh.

 

The Big Island: Trip 3 – Day 1

This past weekend, Josh and I headed to the Big Island one last time for our last trip before Josh deploys and I move. We flew in on Friday night and checked into our hotel to get some sleep before starting our early and very busy Saturday.

Our first stop of the weekend was kayaking across Kealakekua Bay to the Captain Cook Monument to snorkel. The snorkeling and kayak tour came highly recommended to us and they definitely did not disappoint! On our 1 1/2 mile kayak to the monument, we were surrounded by a pod of spinner dolphins. It was so amazing to be so close to them and on their level! The video below shows just how close they were too us. Amazing!

Kayaking with Dolphins Video

After kayaking over to the monument, we landed our kayaks and got our snorkel gear ready. We also took some time to admire the monument. Captain Cook first visited the islands in 1778. It was thought that he and his crew were gods and were welcomed with open arms during a time of peace. After exploiting the kindness of the Hawaiian people, he left and returned during a time of war where he was not exactly welcomed back with open arms. He was killed in the bay by the Hawaiians and the monument memorializes his death.

Next, it was time to snorkel!! It was absolutely stunning. By far the best snorkeling I have ever seen. I could have spent hours just swimming around the area. It was great, as we were the only group (us and one other couple with our guide) and two other random people. We beat the crowd of tour boats!

Kealakekua Bay Snorkeling Video