30 October 2016

Pumpkin Picking

Last weekend the temperatures dipped down to feel like fall so we decided to venture out to a nearby pumpkin patch.  It seems like the outskirts of Milton are full of farms and we had our pick of places to go.  We decided to try out Holland Farms simply because they had a sunflower field and the pumpkins were included in the price of admission.  We like pretty and cheap things.

We got there and it was absolutely adorable. Hollands is actually a peanut farm so you are given a cup of fresh boiled peanuts with your admission. My dad loves them and has eaten them for as long as I can remember but I don't think I've actually tried one in a long time.  I was surprised that I found them to be quite delightful.  I don't know if it was because they were fresh or maybe it was because we were eating them in the crisp weather while walking to a sunflower field. . either way my tummy was quite happy.

We decided to purchase five sunflowers that you were able to cut yourself in the sunflower field and three pumpkins.  I absolutely adore sunflowers.  It's just so neat how they move with the sun, and they get so tall!  They didn't give you anything to cut them with, and Nic didn't think of bringing a pocket knife (who would have?) so he snapped a few for me.  We spent some time just meandering in the field looking at the bees.  I have to say my husband is a great sport for how much he humored me.

Next was the pumpkin patch.  There were still quite a few pumpkin blooms and little green guys growing.  After walking around a bit we were able to find three that we liked.  Unfortunately one has since become moldy (ew) so we ventured to Publix today to buy another and somehow came home with two.  Four pumpkins for two people.   We're making up for not being able to find any to carve last year.

It was a great first adventure in our new home.  Pensacola is so different than Hawaii but being able to pick pumpkins in "fall" weather wasn't too shabby of a start to our new adventure.


11 August 2016

Manta Ray Dive


Diving with the Manta Rays was something I wanted to do since we got our dive certification.  A few friends have done it and their videos are absolutely stunning.  We had planned on going when we visited the Big Island on our post deployment vacation but early winter swells and weird weather caused most of the tours to be cancelled.

Part of the drive to come back instead of going to Kauai was this dive.  We were able to book a spot with Big Island Divers and headed out on our last night there.  To try and help calm my butterflies of doing a night dive we decided to book the two dive charter -- one at dusk and then the big event.  I cannot say how happy I am that we did that.  On our first dive we went to 78 ft (deepest I've been), saw fours mantas, a monk seal and a bunch of coral/eels/fish.  After a surface interval where we watched the sunset, we were finally ready to go in.

The idea of diving at night is just unnatural.  Every part of me tells me not to go into the water at night.  If a shark is going to come attack me I would rather have the opportunity to see it coming versus it sneaking up on me and that's it.  Thankfully, this was a great introduction to night diving.  There is a big "campfire" of dive lights on the bottom of the ocean that faces up.  All divers have a light that you can use to look around with on the descent (I spotted a huge eel out and about) and then you face it up once you're settled.  Snorkelers float above on surfboards with lights on the bottom of them.  The phytoplankton (the mantas food) come into the lights and try to photosynthesize, which bring the mantas out to eat.

To say it was a once in a lifetime experience, and probably the best dive we're going to go on, is an understatement.  We saw 13 different rays including Big Bertha, a pregnant 16 ft wide beast.  A few came so close to our heads that I ducked and ones tail brushed against us.  Being able to sit and watch these beautiful animals underwater is an experience that I can't even begin to put into words.  You can find a video below the pictures! For those interested, there's a longer one on our YouTube page!








10 July 2016

Diving Sharks Cove

Island Divers, who we were open water certified with, has a monthly dive club. They went to Sharks Cove for their event in May and we were so excited to go until we realized Nic had duty and couldn't find a switch.  Thankfully they decided to go back to Sharks Cove in June and we were able to get our dive on.

It's a fantastic deal. If we were going to be here longer we would just purchase the club membership, but instead it's $25 per certified diver, per dive and that includes all equipment rentals and you can dive twice if you want.  I haven't been out since we were certified so it was a good refresher.  Our friend came with us and tried out discover scuba which is actually a cool concept.  If you're interested in getting open water certified, but not sure if you like the idea of breathing under water, you're able to try it out!

It was a little bit of a dreary day. The drive to North Shore was overcast and rainy, which was terrible but once we got there we were greeted with a bit on sunshine!  Either way, once you're in the water it doesn't really matter if it's raining.  The walk down to the water was awful.  If you're going and have fins with booties you will be so much happier than your counterparts without them.  It sucked because of mud and the weight of the tank, BCD and weights but I felt relatively secure with my footing thanks to my booties.

Sharks Cove is gorgeous but we weren't terribly impressed with corals or the fish we saw.  We did see a turtle which was gorgeous.  If you can go while doing a certification, or during a cheap dive event we recommend it.  If you have to pay a ton just snorkel it and take a boat charter out diving.  If we were to go back again we would try and go in the overhangs/caves but I still would rather do a charter and just snorkel there vs pay a ton to dive it.  BUT I am SO happy we did it especially because we figured out that I need a new mask.  Leaking and fogging caused problems the entire time, and I can't imagine doing an advanced certification with that thing.

Yay for checking things off of our Hawaii Bucket List!

 
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04 June 2016

The Mokes

We finally made it out to the Mokulua Islands which are the two islands that sit off of Lanikai beach. We've wanted to kayak out here since we arrived but never made the journey. Thanks to a friends birthday, the long weekend, and a BOGO coupon we decided to venture out.

We rented our kayaks from Kailua Beach Adventures.  With a coupon we were able to get a good price for two tandem kayaks for half a day.  Pair that with some decent weather, a long weekend and a friends birthday and it was a recipe for an adventure!

The Mokes are actually a bird sanctuary. You're only able to land on Moku Nui which is the one to the left.  The day we went there was some decent wind which made the water choppier than usual, especially for this side.  None of us tipped, but we did get soaked from the waves on the way out.  Once we landed we enjoyed a little picnic and then got to the adventures!

I had heard there was a cliff jumping spot but didn't really read where it was.  I thought it was to the left,  but we overheard a women saying there was a tide pool you could jump into to the right and we decided to venture. After passing it (it really didn't look like something to jump into.. ) we kept going and walked around the island until we came to the bay where everyone was jumping. We happened to be on the wrong side and had to shimmy down and get in to get to the right side.  The ocean isn't something to take lightly.  Mother nature is a beast and you always need to be humble and remember that when you're out in the wild.  That thought, the surges and my nerves made the venture take a little longer but I trust my husband and he knows my limits.  Once we started going it wasn't even remotely as scary as it looked.

The boys cliff jumped a few times while Kristin and I relaxed.  Eventually, I may work up the nerve to jump off of something into the water.  Probably not, but I like to pretend I will.  Once we were done we finished walking around the island and kayaked back to Kailua Beach.  It was an amazing day and now it's crossed off of our bucket list!



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16 May 2016

Hawaii Bucket List

Our remaining time on our little island in the middle of the Pacific is unknown, so I decided we should make a Hawaii bucket list to try and make sure we do the things we've been eying.  I was able to do quite a few of these while Nic was deployed (great friends make life easier!) but they won't be crossed off until we can do them together.

This list will be a work in progress, but please post anything you love about our island that I may have missed!
  1. Visit the USS Arizona 
  2. Dive Sharks Cove, blog post here
  3. Snorkel Hanauma Bay
  4. Snorkel Electric Beach
  5. Go to a luau
  6. Eat at a North Shore Shrimp truck
  7. Matsumoto's shave ice
  8. Visit the Dole Plantation
  9. Watch the sunset on Sunset Beach
  10. Watch a surf competition 
  11. Visit Kauai 
  12. Visit Molokai
  13. Visit The Big Island, blog post(s) here
  14. Visit Maui, blog post(s) here
  15. Road to Hana, blog post here
  16. Visit Lanai 
  17. Mermaid Caves
  18. Keana Point 
  19. Pele's Chair & Alan Davis Beach jump  
  20. See the Volcano, blog post here
  21. Koko Crater Arch, blog post here
  22. Koko Crater Stairs 
  23. Diamond Head
  24. Lanikai Pillboxes 
  25. Kayak to the Mokes, blog post here
  26. Kayak to Chinaman's Hat
  27. Swim with turtles 
  28. Visit Kualoa Ranch  (where parts Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed!)
  29. Lanikai Beach 
  30. Makapu'u tide pools (to swim in the one to the left)
  31. Climb Mt Olympus 
  32. Climb Mt Ka'ala 
  33. Ride the Harley around the island 
  34. Fireworks booze cruise of Waikiki
  35. Corsair wreck dive 
  36. Find a sunrise shell (fingers crossed)
  37. Rock jump Waimea Bay
  38. Eat at the original Roy's
  39. Attend the lantern festival 
  40. Manta ray night dive, blog post here 
  41. Find a tako while diving or snorkeling (and hold it)
  42. Mac nut farm tour
  43. Manoa Falls
  44. Rock bridge, blog post here
  45. Find a Jackson Chameleon on a hike
  46. Do the Dole Planation Maze 
  47. Swim with dolphins 
  48. Get open water dive qualified, blog post here
  49. Get advanced dive qualified 
  50. Go to the Swap Meet
  51. Go to the Kaneohe Bay Sandbar

19 January 2016

Koko Crater Arch

This hike has been on my bucket list for a while.  For a lack of any better description -- it's just darn cool!  If you look up #kokocraterarch on Instagram you'll see a bunch of really pretty pictures of the arch; some at sunrise, some with people doing cool stuff in it, and some plain pictures.

We want to go back again for sunrise, but I'm glad we've did it first in the light.  Nic and I went on our own first, and then went with some friends.  We were lucky enough to see whales breaching off shore while we were one our way down -- it was amazing!  The hike is super easy and short which makes it great if you're looking for something quick and fun to do. When you get to the arch I recommend going left.  The ground is pretty crumbly so make sure to take your time.  Also, only go on top if you're comfortable.  There were high gusts of wind the first time we went, so Nic didn't venture up there until we went with friends on a pretty calm day.  Park at the Halona Blowhole parking lot and walk across the street. You have to climb a few rocks and then you'll get up on the trail.  You can see the arch from the street which will direct you on where to go.


12 January 2016

2016


Nic and I were trying to figure out our New Years Resolutions; namely whether we wanted to do a main resolution and work towards that, or pick a word and make resolutions/goals for each month that have us following the word.   In 2014 I participated in a "Directive" where you made monthly resolutions and goals.  I stopped once we moved to Hawaii, but the idea of only having a month to complete something really pushed me.

I've decided to use that directive as a model and pick a word for the year and do monthly goals to try and have me living in better terms of the word.  Picking a word was a bit difficult, but I finally decided upon completion.  There are a few things that I really need to focus upon simply to increase my quality of life.

We've had making a budget on our "to do" list since we got married two and a half years ago.  We have credit cards that we would love to pay off, and also really want to start saving for a more family appropriate car and house when those times come.  After a lot of reading (and genuine positive reactions and recommendations) we've decided to embark on the Dave Ramsey envelope method.  The goal for January is to see how our spending is on a normal month with us both home, and then come up with realistic budget goals and breakdowns.  I'm extremely excited to see where this journey takes us, and how we do with it. If you've done the method and have any tips or recommendations, we'd love to hear them!

05 January 2016

Road to Hana

We were lucky enough to spend a weekend in Maui not to long ago. We made sure we spent our Sunday driving the road to Hana with the roof down and a local am station on the radio.  We were lucky enough to not hit rain and were able to drive the entire time with the wind in our hair.  I had contemplated bringing my favorite hat on the trip but didn't want to carry it -- completely regretted that decision once we rented the convertible!


We made a few stops on the drive. In hindsight I wish I would have researched more into the spots to stop.  That being said, we were able to leave Kehei later than I planned (8:30), stopped everywhere below, and ended up only driving on the road in the dark for 20 minutes.  They recommend you plan your trip to not be on the road in the dark, and I could understand why.  While Nic was perfectly comfortable with the twists and turns they would have been terrifying if I were driving.  We went on a Sunday morning and I was extremely surprised to see so many things were closed! I would understand if we were driving on a weekday, but I would think we were driving it at a particularly busy time.  Alas, it wasn't the end of the world.  We do 100% recommend bringing some snacks and drinks with you.  We filled up our two Hydroflasks and picked up some Li-Hing Gummies and Maui Onion chips.  If we didn't have a big breakfast right before I would have been hungry.  If you happen to get motion sick in any way do grab some Dramamine.  I'm not a fan of windy roads and took half a tablet before we started and half on the way down and they took the edge off.

I apologize for how picture heavy this post will be.  I truly tried to pick our favorites -- there are just quite a few of them!

Here are the places we stopped on our drive up.

Mile Marker 12
Kaumahina State Park is a little stop with a beautiful lookout.  I won't even lie, the most notable part about this is that they have clean restrooms.

Mile Marker 19
Upper Waikani Falls you will know when you come across these falls as people park along the side of the road coming up to it, which makes it hard to see if cars are coming around the bend, and is just a bit of a hazard.  Well. . after three parked cars I would say it's a hazard. When we came up there was a Roberts Hawaii tour van parked there along with two other cars.  Roberts Hawaii vans are huge and I genuinely dislike them. They take their size into consideration when they drive and drive like jerks.  Later in our drive we were stuck behind a guy and almost saw a few accidents solely because of him.

If you drive just a smidge further you will come across a pull out that can accommodate multiple cars, and you just have to walk a few extra steps.  Our recommendation is that when you're facing the bridge from the pull out, you go down and up to the right. It looks a bit more daunting, but in all reality it is much easier.  We went down to the left and up to the right and wish we had gone down the way we went up.  You'll walk under the bridge and find the falls.

Mile Marker 24
Hanawai Falls are right along a bridge. There is a turnout next to a graffiti'd shack and to the right of the bridge is an adorable waterfall with an easy path down to it.  Nic went down and said there was a cave back behind the falls and for some reason I decided not to go down (the keep out sign is what did me in).  It's my one regret from the drive.  We decided to stop again on the way down, but by the time we got there it was already dark.


Mile Marker 27 1/2
Coconut Glen's an amazing ice cream shop on the side of the road.  It's absolutely adorable, and delicious. It is vegan and diary free ice cream made from coconuts! They have different flavors -- Nic had the toasted coconut and I had the lilikoi and they were both delicious.  They also have coconut candy which is essentially toasted coconut bits and I wish we had bought more than one bag. Definitely worth a stop (or two if they're open on the way down).  They only take cash and each item is $6 so make sure to come prepared.

Mile Marker 29
Naihiku Marketplace. .  I was pretty excited about this place. We decided not to grab lunch in Paia town in anticipation of the little stands that we thought would be open on the road but it seemed like everything was closed.  Once we got to the market around 12:00 PM I was pretty hungry, but nothing was open.  The Thai Lady was going to open soon, but there was already a line of people waiting, so we grabbed a little ornament from a cute shop and kept going.

Mile Marker 31
Kahanu Garden was actually a detour off the main road.  You turn left and about a mile down the road you run into the gardens.  You are supposed to be able to see Pi'ilanihale Heiau which is the largest temple in Hawaii, took 100s of years to complete and covers over 3 acres.  Be sure to check the sign when you turn onto the road as it will say if it's open or not.  We didn't take notice and went down the bumpy road to find it closed.

Mile Marker 34
Hana Town is not terribly impressive.  A cute little town, but there wasn't much.  We stopped for lunch at a place on the beach but wished we kept going. Not even a mile down the road from where we stopped was a BBQ stand that smelled like absolute heaven.

Mile Marker 42
Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park was our last stop and so wonderful! Sadly the Seven Sacred Pools were closed, but we did the Pīpīwai Trail.   A blog post about the trail will be up soon.  I do want to point out that if you are military you get a free annual pass to the National Park Service!  Not all parks have this posted and it is such a perk!

Various Mile Markers

Fruit Stands!! There is an abundance of fruit stands set up along the road. Unfortunately we didn't come across one that was manned and open.  After Hana Town and before the National Park we came across a stand that had fruit and worked off of the honor system.  If you go on a day when everything is open you will be able to eat your way up the entire Road to Hana.  Do make sure to have cash on hand!

It is such a beautiful drive to get lost in the day with your love!