Sunday, February 10, 2013

Awesome blog post by Nomadic Matt

Nomadic Matt is my absolute favorite travel blogger! His travels and words are so encouraging and helpful. The latest article I read from his was encouraging those just beginning their travels to not listen to what other people may say or their opinions. Anyone with wonderlust like I have right now should read this article:

"Everyone Says I'm Running Away"

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kauai: Paradise

Kauai was beyond my favorite of the Hawaiian islands. I was lucky enough to visit Kauai twice in 2012. The first time I went was with my sister and April. Yet another GIRL'S TRIP because we're awesome.

Let me preface it with the fact we tried our very best to be hippies in Kauai. We tried SO HARD. We even tried to get camping permits to camp out but apparently they sell out of permits months in advance!!! Not having reached the rule breaking hippie status (yet), we opted for a hotel room via priceline. But we did not settle on attire. We sported some pretty fancy homemade tie dye shirts... and looked adorbs.

After MANY complications trying to use flight vouchers we purchased via a radio promo and sily Go Mokolele! airlines, we finally all arrived in Kauai about 5 hours after schedule. After settling in at our hotel, we headed North. We saw Opaekaa Waterfalls, Wailua Falls, Wet Caves, Dry Caves, Kilauea Lighthouse, and some beaches on the North Shore. 

Our second day in Kauai landed us at 6am on a half day excursion on a zodiac tour of the Na Pali Coastline. What an experience. This lil boat fit about 12 people and zipped along the coast at record speeds, jetting it's way into sea caves and giving us the MOST BEAUTIFUL VIEWS IN MY LIFE!!! Holy shiz. WOW.

We even got to see where Mary J Blige shot a scene in her video "Everything"

Here's one of my pics from the same sea cave as seen in her video. It truly was breathtaking!!

The zodiac tour brought us to the "secret beach" but we couldn't get off the boat there. We then went to a beautiful lil spot where we broke for lunch, snorkeling, and exploring the gardens where the local people of Kauai will camp out while they preserve the land out there. It's so cool. Gotta love the hippies.

This excursion was just made our weekend! I would recommend it to anyone who visits Kauai! Just make sure you don't get sea sick and know you WILL get wet on the ride back. It's a BUMPY ride and not for the faint of heart. 

The second part of our day had us exploring the southern part of Kauai and also driving up to Waimea Canyon. WOW! Who would have thought there was a small Grand Canyon on such a petite island?! It came out of nowhere and was so freakin cool. 

DAY 3 in Kauai: HIKING

The Na Pali Coast 11 mile hike to the secret beach is what Kauai is known for. You MUST have a camping permit to go past mile 6.5, because odds are you cannot hike 22 miles up and down mountains in 1 day. SO 13 miles, 11 hours, 5 liters of water and 8 cliff bars later, we made it back. And WOW. This hike is truly paradise. The views are unlike anything I've even seen in movies. Pictures do not do it justice. It's simply breathtaking. We even met a hippie who lives out in the woods along the way. He was playing a flute he made. 

The hippie we met is up in there somewhere beside his tent... playing his flute.

Chandler & April climbing out onto that scary rock. 

The beach at mile marker 3

I haven't even touched on the cute little restaurants we ate at, coffee shops we got our morning brew or the fabulous pineapple drinks at Duke's ....


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mahalo REI

Yesterday mom & I ventured into REI with a whole new set of eyes. Anytime I've been before, it's been to get a new North Face or Patagonia jacket. With backpacking Asia in the horizon, I discovered SO MANY COOL gadgets that are going to make my travels so much more comfortable, safe & helpful! The staff at REI is beyond knowledgeable. I was super impressed!!

I didn't purchase much yesterday but notated what things would be the wise to invest in before my trip:

-Water Purifier to attach to a Camelbak
-Silk sleeping bag liner to use under hostel bedding
-Scan proof wallet
-Down sleeping bag
-Mosquito net
-Bug Repelent
-Day Pack

I didn't know you had to get "sized" for a backpack & certain ones work for different people. I narrowed my choices down to 2. One having the luxury on outside pockets which would help keep my OCD self fairly organized or one that felt like it was massaging my back with its lumbar addition. An employee at REI was super helpful & patient. He spent a quality hour with me going through the features & benefits of each backpack. He even added weight to the "chosen" bag & had me walk around the store for a bit to see how it felt.

I'll definitely be spending more time the next couple off months exploring all the neat things that REI has!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Broadcasting from atop Mauna Loa

April highlighting the benefits of a Crossfit WOD atop Mauna Loa

Island Hopping to BIG Island

Last spring, I got to explore the BIG ISLAND with 2 of my very best friends Sara & April. Sara I had met during my brief stint working at JCrew On The Island. She was trying on clothes for her internship, I complimented her, we realized we were both new and looking for friends, & voila! We became BFFs. April is a college friend who just happened to have gone to high school with my roommate, so she was visiting us for a few months. We had SUCH a great time on Big Island (aka Hawai’i). 
We flew into Kailua-Kona late Friday night and drove to a family friend’s house. They had retired out there and welcomed us into their home for the weekend. Mike helped us strategize our route the next day in order for us to maximize the 48 hours we had to work with. 
We woke up at 6am, sticking to our schedule, and were off! This was the first time Sara had rented a car after turning 25. We didn’t notice the color of the car in he dark the night before, so boy were we surprised when we walked outside the next morning to see our “lil green monster” car. It was SO BRIGHT and SO FUN. Perfect for our girls weekend. 
We managed to drive around the coast of the whole island on Saturday which took about 15 hours, including stops.
What we managed to see on Saturday:
  • Waipio Valley
  • Akaka Falls
  • Merry Monarch parade in Hilo
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park- Mauna Loa
  • Lava Tubes
  • Black Sand Beach & mucho sea turtles
  • Sea Arch
  • Kona Brewing Company

On Sunday, we stayed even busier and even got in a great 3 mile hike to the Green Sand Beach! We also saw the Southern Most Point in the U.S.A, where naturally we peed so that we could say were peed in the southern most point in the U.S.A. For a good 10 mins, we had various titles “Southern Most Southern Girl in the U.S.A.” , “Southern Most Tennessean”, “Southern Most White Girl”, etc. etc. It was quite fun. 

Due to our time constraints, we hopped in a truck on our hike back from the Green Sand Beach. This older Hawaiian guy and his son drive the trail every day to bring tourists back to their cars. You’d be amazed at the potholes and path he took. I was sure his truck was going to bottom out any minute. Well worth the $5pp. 

We got to explore Kailua-Kona a bit on Sunday as well. It is the cutest lil town! I without a doubt had THE best coffee I’ve ever had at this lil coffee shop serving Macadamia Nut Kona coffee. YUM. We also tried Kava Juice that was being prepared at a cute lil stand in Kona. Kava is an old alcoholic drink of Hawaians that relaxes both your mind and your body. Your whole mouth goes numb and you feel just very relaxed. It was an interesting experience, and I can't say I even finished my whole drink. 

I wouldn’t mind living in Kona. Seems like such a relaxing and perfect town. Our girls trip was a success. We saw way more than we had anticipated could be accomplished in 48 hrs, bonded over our need to instagram immediately after seeing something awesome & came away with many wonderful memories from our girls trip.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Island Hopping Adventures: MAUI

During my time in Hawaii, I was able to see 3 of the other islands: Maui, Hawaii (Big Island), & Kauai Really the only other 3 worth seeing, or so they say. 


My second family The Kendra crew are regulars to the island of Maui.  I was lucky enough to join in on their annual family vacation around Christmas time the past 2 years. We stayed both years at the Marriott near Lahaina. Such a wonderful resort and super relaxing! Though we barely got in the awesome pools they have either year, we spent lots of time in their hot tubs and laying out. A vacation from a vacation life. =) 

Highlights of Maui:
  • Onion rings and burgers at Cool Cat Cafe. Holy shiz these are good.
  • Road to Hana
  • Exploring the shops in Lahaina
  • Rainbow Eucalyptus trees
  • Sunrise at Haleakala
  • Stargazing and planet spotting during the "end of the world" at 1:19 on December 21, 2012
  • Whale Watching
  • Macadamia Nut pancakes with Coconut Syrup

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Back From Paradise

Hawaii is paradise. Hands down. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. LOVE IT. I'm temporarily back in Franklin after spending the past 14 months on the island of Oahu. I was lucky to land an awesome job in advertising in Honolulu, rented a big beautiful house on Kaneohe Bay with roommates and new friends & had some AMAZING adventures I wouldn't trade for anything.

Highlights of my Hawaiian Life...

#1) Went skydiving over the North Shore of Oahu 5 times! Even got to pull my own parachute once!

#2) Ran my first 1/2 Marathon.. around Diamond Head! 

#3) Bought the perfect island car!! A beautiful red convertible VW bug!!! HERBIE!

#4) SURFING- check!

#5) Paddleboarding- check!

#6) Became a regular Booze Cruiser. Who can turn down $30 for all you can drink and the best spot to watch a beautiful Hawaiian sunset

#7) Caught dozens if not hundreds of beautiful sunsets. Definitely my FAVORITE part of living in tropical paradise are these breathtaking sunsets. (photo taken with my iphone)

#8) Same goes for these amazing rainbows!

#9) Had many visitors! Which meant I was a constant tourist- which I loved! 

Carolyn got to come in January! 

Davis made a Hawaiian pit-stop en route from Australia. Such a world traveler!

My sister Chandler toyed with the idea of making Hawaii her temporary home too but decided to just make it an extended vacation. We had so much fun the month she was here!

Took surfing lessons when my Mom came out to visit!

Sam came out over Halloween! We also went skydiving post Color Run festivities. Made for great photos and an incredible day!

Got to spend the past TWO Christmases with these 2 lovely ladies & their amazing family in MAUI! Always a great time with the Kendra family.

#10) Found a church family!!! Proud to call Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay my church home. This church is absolutely amazing and blessed me so much during my time in Hawaii. I also was able to meet an amazing group within my mini-church who welcomed me in with open arms. The picture below is from a water baptism at beautiful Kailua Beach. 

#11) Powered through a weekend full of Marine Corp Balls. AMERICA.

#12) Hiked the most AMAZING mountains, waterfalls, stairs & trails.  Later blog post to come on these hikes. 

#13) Shared a house with 4, sometimes 6, military guys. Our house parties were a hit.

#14) Introduced to some amazing new food! Poke, Acai bowls, Malasadas, Spam musubi, Manapua, and more... 

#15) Went to a Luau with my bestest friends =) 

#16) Swam with dolphins at Sea Life Park AND in their natural habitat

#17) Got to visit the most beautiful place on earth- the KANEOHE BAY SANDBAR. Props to my awesome roommate for having a boat in paradise.

#18) Snorkeled in crystal clear waters!

#19) Woke up to the sound of the ocean. Camping on the most beautiful beach. 

#20) Enjoyed a never-ending vacation. Sometimes even my lunch breaks were a small vacation in tropical paradise. Not many people could have enjoyed this during their hour long lunch break...

This list could go on and on... basically 14 months of true paradise. Most importantly, I made some AMAZING friends, coworkers, and ohana. Truly thankful for my time sp

more blog posts to come on my Island Hopping adventures and the beautiful hikes I experienced while on the islands!