7.28.2015

Just Beachy


The retired mothers are used to sleeping in, but us working stiffs have internal clocks that naturally set to earlier so we were usually up before them.  The morning of day five in Kauai, we took an early walk around the hotel grounds.  MJ wanted to pick up breakfast and look for sea turtles.  This is their hang out spot.  We saw some our first day there, but no such luck that morning.

One of the first things we did when we got there is find beach rentals.  Our hotel didn't have it's own beach.  Shipwreck beach was right next door in front of the Hyatt, but it's not very swimmer friendly so we knew that we would be spending our beach days elsewhere.  I do not enjoy baking in the sun and I like to be comfortable while I lounge so we got chairs and umbrellas from Boss Frog's Snorkel Shop for the week.

We spent our first beach day at Poipu Beach because it was close and snorkel friendly.  Parking was really tight.  MJ did that magic trick that guys do where they drop off the ladies and then conjure up a parking space out of thin air.  There isn't a lot of sand and it was pretty crowded but we found a spot to set up.  As the day went on the waves started to creep closer and closer to us.  We weren't quite ready to leave so when that one wave came that made me jump and grab my stuff, we relocated to an area further back. 
I spent hours shopping for those darn bikini bottoms and will probably never wear them again.  When you go in the ocean and it looks like you have dropped a load it means you got the wrong size.  That may be acceptable when you are five years old, but not so much on a grown woman.



This has to be one of my favorite beaches ever.  The water is shallow and I saw no fish in my immediate area.  Plus, it has this really cool little sandbar that allows you to walk out to sea and sit in a patch of sand in the middle of the ocean while gentle waves wash over your lap.  You can see it in the background in this pic.  As the day went on this area filled up with water as well and there was probably no sand left on the beach after we left.

Looking back I realize that there weren't very many pictures from our beach.  I am always the main photographer.  If I don't take the picture or ask for a picture that often means it doesn't get taken and sometimes I just can't be bothered; but you get the idea.  Just another gorgeous day in Kauai. 

7.21.2015

Gone Biking

Anything and everything you do in Kauai is taken up a notch just because of the amazing view and even when you can't see the view everything is just better because you are there.  We spent our 4th day in Kauai biking. 

We rented bikes from Kapaa Beach Shop and it was just $15 per bike for the whole day.  We were able to park our car there which was helpful since parking is tight in this area and Kapaa Bike Path was right behind the building.  We started out going North and then doubled back to the end of the path to the South.  The path is a very even 8 mile stretch along the coast with a perfect ocean view the whole way.


We came across a little beach hut to rest.  There was an inviting beach below so we locked up the bikes to climb down there and take a look.  It was deserted.  Not a single person there but us and it was gorgeous.  The waves here were super powerful so I don't think it's very swimmer friendly (or non swimmer friendly) but man, oh man did I want to get in.  I wasn't wearing a bathing suit but it was so deserted and I was so hot that if the waters had been more friendly I would have considered going in my undies.


There was one mishap.  MJ took a left down a wide dirt path and us ladies followed.  He's a dirt biker.  We aren't.  It was easy enough for him to ride down that path and it looked easy enough too, but as soon as I started down I could see that it was steeper than it looked.  I followed first.  I let my feet off the brakes for one second and started to lose control so I turned around to call out behind me that you have to keep your feet on the brakes and before I finished getting it all out I heard yelling as my mom crashed to the ground.  I lost focus and took my foot off the brakes again and almost fell too.  I was going fast enough that breaking was going to make me crash, but slow enough to get my feet on the ground, fill my shoes with gravel and stop myself.   My mom was a real trooper.  She dusted herself off and kept going.  Within a few hours she had one of the biggest blackest bruises on her thigh that I've ever seen.

One of the things I loved most about Kauai is the lack of people.  This is our first time coming to Hawaii in the summer so I was worried that it would be crowded, but the bike path was mostly empty.  We only saw a few other bikers so for the most part we felt like we had the path to ourselves.  I kept wondering where are all the people? We stayed at The Point at Poipu and even there it seemed deserted.  There are cars on the roads and yeah, you see people out and about but it never felt like much and that was fine with us.  The island is the furthest North from the big Island and based on what we've experienced in Oahu and Maui, the most remote.

Then we came to the end of the path and I said, "Nooo, is that it?" I was physically exerted, but enjoying it so much I didn't want it to end.  I had no concept of time for most of the time we were there so I couldn't even tell you how long we spent on the path. 

We turned in our bikes and then stopped for food to take back to the hotel.  We found out the hard way that there isn't a whole lot to choose from nearby.  We passed a McDonald's on the way in from the airport but kept going because we figured there would be something closer, but no such luck.  The roads are remote, windy and there is not much around.  We ended up having to call in an expensive order for pick up to the one nearby restaurant.  The next day we stopped at the only grocery store in town to stock the kitchen.  Poipu is barely even a town because there just isn't much around and what's there is very spread out.  There is this one little row of shops and restaurants that I would say is the main "hub" and that's it.  We stopped and MJ found this weird little fish shop, but there was nothing on the menu for us.  We kept looking and found these two food trucks where we had the choice between Thai and Mexican.  We went with Thai.  I got chicken Pad Thai because that's the only Thai food I know to order and it was delicious.  I'm still amazed at the delicious foods that come out of those little trucks.

By this time we had been in Kauai for four days and had not yet gone to the beach which is insane.  Those turquoise waters were calling my name.  The next day would have to be a beach day.

Poipu Beach

7.14.2015

Totally Worth the Early Morning Wake Up


Port Allen and our chariot for the day
The first thing you have to know about Hawaii is that the weather is perfect.  All.  The.  Time.  Mexico is blazing hot in the summer and NYC is too cold in the winter.  San Diego is pretty nice, but Hawaii is it's own perfect idealized weather climate.  We've been in October, December and July.  It never changes.  Balmy breezes with just the right amount of humidity and sunshine that makes your skin glow and melts your soul into a puddle of happiness.  We didn't catch a drop of rain this time, but even when it does it usually doesn't last long and it's still warm.  It just doesn't get much better.  As soon as I stepped off the plane I was content and relaxed until the moment I left.  You also have to know that food is expensive.  We all had some serious sticker shock when we made our first trip to the grocery store.  I spent $6.99 on a loaf of bread!  MJ bought some grocery items for all of us at Walmart and it was a shocking $80 bucks.

We went boating on our 2nd full day in Kauai.  I wasn't so sure about Captain Andy's Sailing Napali Snorkel Tour.  I can't swim and I have fish phobia.  I sure as heck am not going to jump off a boat into the middle of the ocean and swim with the fishes, but this is one thing MJ requested so we went with it and I'm glad we did.  I purposefully scheduled this early on in our trip while we were fresh because it was not early in real life, but definitely early for vacation.  7:45am check in.  Ugh.  We had to set our alarms.
My mom and I


stunning


There are no shoes allowed on the boat and they make sure of it because the first thing they did before we even got on was take our shoes.  We had to place them in a locked shelving unit and got them back when we returned.  My first thought because I am borderline OCD.  Gross.  I don't want to walk around a public place without shoes, but the boat was very clean and dry.  It got wet and a little grimy after the snorkelers came back, but it was fine.  We were free to move around the boat as we wanted.  There were plenty of places to put our stuff and sit down below and up above.  The thing that made this trip worth the money even if we weren't going to snorkel is the length of time, the views and the food.  We got to be on a boat for 5.5 hours, in an ocean that went from royal blue, to turquoise, to aquamarine depending on the depth of the water and how the sun reflected off of it. Because of the mountains, the only place these views are visible is from a boat in the middle of the ocean. 
We were on a Catamaran so we were too tall to go into the caves but you can do it in a Zodiac which is basically a gigantic blow up raft.  Zodiac's are tiny.  They only hold 14, while Catamaran's hold 49.  That is an option through Captain Andy's but it's very wet, bumpy, you have to hold on for dear life a lot of the time and sea sickness is a very real concern on boats of either size.  For my first boating adventure I preferred the luxury of the larger catamaran where I could leisurely sit around, eat, drink and stay dry.  We also had bathrooms which are not available on Zodiacs.

The untouched mountains of the Napali coast are absolutely stunning.  I could stare at them for hours and when all is said and done that's what we did. We had dolphins swimming directly in front of our boat.  They are so cool to look at and I was impressed that they could stay directly in front of our boat and not get run over.  There was an hour for snorkeling where most of the passengers jumped into the water.   After being in the sun all day a dip in the ocean looked so refreshing.   A part of me really wanted to throw on a life jacket and get in; but those fish are so big and the water is so clear I could see them from the boat.  There was no way I was getting in there.
This cute boy
MJ's mom was jokingly referred to as a "project" since she had never been snorkeling before.  The staff is really patient.  She was coached until she was comfortable enough to get off the stairs and get out there on her own.  They wanted me to be the other project, but I'm pretty sure nobody on that boat had enough patience for me.  I'm no project.  I'm NOT snorkeling, so I politely declined.  My mom was not up for the task either.
MJ is the guy in the middle facing the camera
MJ and his mom
I am still fascinated that people know how to keep their body afloat without a life jacket for that long and make it look so easy and relaxing without drowning.  I am a non swimmer.  I don't get it.  We watched them bob around for a while and then my mom and I noticed they had put out lunch.  It was just sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese, but it was seriously so good.  It was not cheapo lunch meat and it was full of flavor.  Then we had cookies for dessert.  They had about an hour to snorkel and then they broke out the beer and wine which was unlimited for the rest of the trip.  They took roll call to make sure no one had gone missing and then we headed back to port.
You had to climb up and down the ladder to get to the bathroom
I have had no issues with gigantic cruise ships or dinner cruise ships but I've never been on a boat this small so I was nervous about getting sea sick which, would really suck.  There is no going back once they take off.  I read some horror stories on Trip Adviser so I brought Dramamine just in case and we all took a dose before we got on.  I felt a little bit ill after spending a few minutes in the lower part of the boat to use the restroom and put on sunscreen, but it passed.  I think you are definitely better off above.  I definitely recommend Captain Andy's.  They took care of us the entire time.  There was coffee while we were waiting at check in and as soon as we got on the boat we helped ourselves to pineapple, pastries and juice.  When the boat is moving it can be tricky walking around.  The staff was so friendly and they came around asking us if we needed anything, bringing us drinks and cookies and taking our trash.  They even hosed off our feet when we got off the boat, which made my little OCD heart happy.
 
A big part of being on vacation for me is waking up whenever the heck I want.  I don't want to lose half the day sleeping in, but I also don't want to have to wake up to an alarm clock like I do at home.  I will never NOT do something on vacation just so I can sleep because that would be ridiculous, and this was totally worth the early wake up.  It was such an amazing experience.  I'm feeling brave enough to try a Zodiac if I ever get the chance again.  Maybe I'll even be brave enough to snorkel?  Nah.  Not a chance.   

Biking in Kapaa, Kauai


7.08.2015

I'm Back-Sort Of

Would it be dramatic to say that waking up at 6:22am, putting on actual clothes and shoes, driving to work under a cloudy sky and sitting at my desk listening to traffic whiz by on the freeway outside my window while eating bread and peanut butter feels like a bad dream? I admit it.  I'm a drama queen, but seeing as how just days ago I was hanging out in paradise where each sunny day blended seamlessly into the next I guess it's going to take me a bit to transition back to reality.
Our vacation was everything I hoped it would be and we got back Monday off a red-eye flight from Kauai.  We immediately unpacked, showered, took naps and began the post vacation recovery process.  Tuesday morning I didn't wake up until 10:30am.  I don't remember the last time I slept in that long.  I woke up very confused.  I had no idea what day it was or what day I said I was coming back to work.  Why did I say I might come back on Tuesday when I had no intention of coming back until Wednesday?  I extended my out of office reply another day and in my half asleep state even deleted an e mail for good measure.

Since I took that "extra" day the plan was to be productive and make use of it, but it wasn't happening.  I couldn't seem to force my body into action.  No wonder they say the early bird gets the worm because when I wake up at 10:30 the day feels half over and I've given up on accomplishing anything before I even start.  I ate a late breakfast and then watched Dance Mom's while my "food settled" enough for exercise and the next thing I knew it was 3:30pm and I'd done nothing but download vacation pictures and spend way too long trying to figure out how to get pictures off my phone.  The whole day-wasted!!  I couldn't have that so I jumped up, started laundry and got in a Bikini Body Guide work out.  I'm sure I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm more proud that I finally took care of it.  I've been riding around with bags of clothes in my trunk for almost a year.  It's the hoarder in me.  Determined to finally unload them once and for all I jumped in the car and made it to the Goodwill donation center by 5:00pm (and rescued a skirt from one of the bags) just as it was closing up shop.  I feel so much lighter just knowing those clothes are gone and that I can finally use my trunk again.  Then I made it to the car wash at 5:20pm just in time to be the last car washed for the day.  I even got gas.  Mind, you I planned to do all of those things before I left, but what with stress packing and running around buying things I realized I didn't have it never happened.  It all worked out because I salvaged what was left of the day and accomplished everything I planned in the space of two hours. 

So yeah, I'm back and I was feeling really energetic and rested until I woke up for work this morning. I leave tomorrow for a two night work trip that I need to pack for, but that should be a piece of cake after packing for seven nights in Hawaii.  It's not like I'll be doing anything fun. 

My body is back, but my brain is still riding a bike on Kapaa Beach.  I just need a few more days to find my groove.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know that extensive vacation recaps will follow just as soon as I can get it together enough to write them. 

6.23.2015

What I've Been Up To

Recently I've been...

Working out almost every day.  I have never, ever been a work out every day kind of girl so this is a crazy thing for me.  Friday is my rest day but six days a week I either work out at home, go to the gym or power walk.  I am currently in week 12 (out of 12) of The Bikini Body Guide by Kayla Itsines.  The workouts are killer and I can't believe that I am almost done with the whole thing.  Stay tuned for my beach body reveal on Instagram.  It's actually been a good thing having this time to myself to focus on getting these work outs in.  MJ is a very good and welcome distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.    
This is how I pack
Planning our vacation. That's the fun part where it becomes really, real that vacation is not just some abstract concept that you long for but something that you will actually be doing and experiencing in the near future.  I'm in charge of planning our itinerary and so far we are boating, biking, hiking and beaching.  I've got a few more things I need to pick up and I started packing over the weekend.  Not fun for me at all, but I made progress and then I decided to go bikini shopping at Target.  They are having BOGO 50% right now.  I found one, but it was brutal. Even after 11 weeks of steady exercise.  It's just a hard thing for me.

Seeing a lot of my friends.   There have been quite a few dinner/lunch dates over the last six weeks.  One of them was even a spur of the moment same day invite.  Normally I can't even wrap my head around that, but I was just chillin' at home by myself so why not?  I invited the girls over for a girls night.  I'm not fancy so neither was my party but there was wine, pizza, chips with salsa and other assorted easy bake appetizers and everyone had a great time. 

Hearing a strange noise coming from my car.   I didn't want to be the crazy lady who takes her car to the shop complaining of a strange noise only to have them not be able to recreate it and find nothing wrong.  I put it off for two weeks and finally got it taken care of over the weekend.  I recorded the sound on my phone and in doing so stumbled across other unnamed recordings from 2011 and 2013 of very similar car sounds.  MJ says I'm hard on brakes and he's right because every other year they need replacing.

Eating a lot of Subway.  I was really good at first with cooking a proper meal for the week on Sunday as I had gotten into the habit of doing, but then one week I just didn't want to do it and then that was it.  I cooked again this week, but I think there will still be Subway in  the near future.  I can get two meals out of $6.00.  It's quick, it's cheap, it's healthy, it works.

Watching a lot of movies.  When MJ is gone I push all the chick flicks languishing at the bottom of our Netflix queue to the top.  It's been three movies per weekend every weekend and I will be sharing them in a movie review post soon.  I've also gotten into Lifetime Movies again.  It all started with Cleveland Abduction.  Then, I'd see a preview for another one that looked good so I'd record it.  Then while watching that one I'd see another preview and so on and so forth.  They know how to get you.  Since then, I've seen The Secret Life of MarilynKidnapped: The Hanna Anderson Story,  The Wrong Girl, Double Daddy, I Killed My BFF and Perfect High premieres this weekend.  I browsed titles and they are so funny.  There is Girl He Met Online and Boy She Met Online just in case you want to see a different version where the boy is psycho.  More primo examples:  All the Good Ones are Married, The Last Trimester, Sorority Surrogate and Sexting in Suburbia.  For a while LMN movies were just a bit much for me to take but I'm liking them again.  All the ones I watched were really good until Adoption Gone Wrong with Will Farrell and Kristen Wiig.  Hilarious; and not because it was a comedy.  I expected so much more.  I'm sorry, but Will Farrell's bearded bookish character was totally unbelievable as the object of obsession and there were so many over dramatized to the point of ridiculous scenes.  The worst was the one where the camera zooms in on a pair of heels as they are attached to someone who is supposed to be going over a bridge.  So bad.

Missing my husband.  He's 9 hours ahead and his good morning is my good night so it's mostly been texting and facetime on the weekends if he has internet connection.  Six weeks is not forever and I've gotten used to this sort of thing, but I'm ready to have him back.  Netflix doesn't work.  All my iPhoto pics (that were so carefully recovered and sorted from being lost before) have disappeared, Amazon Echo won't work, the DVD player downstairs stopped playing DVD's, I can't figure out how to watch TV on the upstairs one in the loft, the app for our Thermostat isn't working and I don't like taking out the trash or watering the mini tree.  At least I haven't seen any spiders.  I could also use a good smooch and his awesome bear hugs.  It won't be long now.

What I have not done is watch a single episode of Orange is The New Black! I am lagging.  Between movies, reading and staying caught up on DVR I just haven't gotten around to it. This is not acceptable and needs to be remedied ASAP. 

6.16.2015

Our Yearly Jaunt to the Fair

I wasn't going to mention this because it's actually kind of embarrassing.  A few months ago I sent a text message to my mom on a Saturday afternoon.  I had just received a call from our hotel confirming our reservation and I realized that we had a 1,200 square foot two-bedroom, two-bathroom for just the two of us.  We don't normally have that much space and MJ had just mentioned that his mom has never had a real vacation and he'd like to take her along some day so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to invite our parents.  I sent a text message to my mom to see what she thought.

The next morning, I still hadn't heard from my mom which is unusual, so I texted her again in the afternoon.  Still no response.  I realized that I hadn't heard from my mom in about a week so, I texted my sister to find out when the last time she heard from mom.  Friday, she replied.  I called my mom's cell and it went straight to voice mail.  I called my dad's cell and got voice mail.  I called their land line and got voice mail.  By this time I was really, really worried and had convinced myself within a time span of 30 minutes that my parents had been kidnapped or that something equally terrible had happened to them.  There was no evidence that my parents had met with some unfortunate incident, and it had only been 24 hours since trying to reach them, but that didn't stop me from being  irrationally upset.  I stewed in my own thoughts for a little bit longer feeling panicked, when my cell phone rang.  As soon as I heard my mom's voice I was so relieved that I burst into tears.  "Mooooommmmmm, I was so worried. You didn't call me back.  I thought something bad happened to you!!"  I was so glad they were okay.  Not that they ever weren't.  She never got my text message from the day before and then had accidentally shut off her phone.  I'm sure my mom thought I had lost it and I'm glad MJ was tucked away in his room and didn't witness this meltdown.  I still don't know  why I freaked out like that. Perhaps I was suffering some kind of latent separation anxiety from my parents.  Maybe I was just emotional that day.  Who knows, but for whatever reasons my thoughts ran away with themselves to a very dark place making me think the worst and realize how devastated I would be if something bad ever happened to them.  It's not a good feeling, so hopefully I've learned my lesson on overreacting.  Since then, mom has been quite careful to return each and every text promptly to ensure that I don't have a nervous breakdown.
My very much alive and well parents were here over the weekend.  We went to the fair and nearly got attacked by a dog.  It was fabulous.  Last year the whole family went.  This year I was happy to have the 'rents.  I scored two $4.00 fair tickets and my dad got the senior discount so we got in for cheap.  The regular price has gone up to $15 bucks.  We weren't there long before I wanted to eat, because when I'm at the fair I want to eat everything the entire time I'm there.  Everywhere you look there is someone shoving food in their face and the delicious food smells never stop.  This year one of the new foods was deep fried slim fast bars, which makes perfect sense.  Don't you think? I went straight for Papa Gino's pizza like I do every year.  It's always in the same spot.  The price has gone up to $9.72, but it's worth every bite.  I also managed to pack in a soft serve ice cream cone and half a cinnamon roll on top of that.  I've been going since I was kid and have developed a sentimental attachment to the place.  We eat, we hang out in the paddock, we never miss the free wine tasting and we walk around looking at exhibits and animals.  I don't step foot in the fun zone for rides anymore and we don't really do a whole lot, but it's fun and I love going. 

On Sunday we went for a five mile walk first thing in the morning.  It was nice having company because I usually walk alone and thank goodness I did.  About half way through the walk I saw this woman walking towards us holding a large white dog around the collar.  I thought she looked nervous, and was curious about why she was holding him by the collar and not a leash, but I didn't think anything of it until I heard loud barking and yelling behind me. I turned around and saw this lady rolling around on the ground trying to keep hold of her dog.  I definitely can't say she didn't try.  The dog escaped and was lunging and barking aggressively at my mom.  I'm terrified of dogs but I wasn't going to throw her to the wolves so I ran over to her and grabbed her arm.  I've heard that you aren't supposed to run, so we didn't do that.  We huddled together and edged away as we could slowly until the dog backed off a little and the owner was able to grab it.  I think they live on that street.  The dog probably got out and she rushed to retrieve him without grabbing a leash.  I've walked that route many times and never seen it, but now I'm traumatized.  I won't be walking that way for a while.  Nothing like a five mile walk and a run in with an aggressive dog to feed your appetite.  We stopped for lunch at Nicky Rotten's then spent the rest of the day running errands, watching movies, and drinking wine.

I did not have any extra days off work so the weekend went way too fast, but we have additional visits planned.  My mom said YES and booked her airline ticket right away, so we will see her and my mother-in law in Kauai very soon.