Life Lately

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IMG_3871fall day in the mountains

IMG_5497 unedited sneak peek of the most epic sunset after the wedding 

Time for a quick update on life lately. It has turned to full blown fall overnight. If you saw my Instagram post last week you know that I am a summer girl! I live for summer days, flip flops, and sunshine. So while the rest of the world is buying pumpkin spice everything, I’m over here daydreaming about summer.

I can hardly believe that we were married in Jamaica almost a month ago. I cannot wait to share more! I loved our photographer that we worked with; there is a 6-14 week turnaround for the photos so we are anxiously awaiting them! We had the most epic sunset the night of the wedding that I know is going to make for great photos. I’ll probably overshare once we get them! We got married at the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and then went to Negril for a short mini moon at the Rockhouse Hotel.

Since coming home life has been all kinds of crazy. In an effort to get in the fall spirit we took a road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The leaves had just started turning, and it was a perfect day trip. Seeing the leaves start to change does give me all the #fallfeels. We visited the Blue Ridge Music Center for the first time. There is a small museum here that explains the history of mountain music, free music outdoors, and a very nice hiking trail. We really enjoyed it. It is right on the Blue Ridge Parkway so the drive in is beautiful as well. On the way home we stopped at nearby Round Peak Vineyards for a glass of wine and to take in the view. Our final stop was at Skull Camp Brewing for a late lunch. Overall the perfect fall day trip.

We leave for our actual honeymoon in Paris in a few weeks and would love any and all recommendations you have on visiting the City of Lights!

Visiting Hawaii in Winter

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Honolulu views from the Punchbowl

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why yes we did wake up like this…..

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new friends on the beach

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voted best shave ice on Oahu

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Ka’ena Point State Park 

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the sunsets in Hawaii are unreal

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lunch views from Nico’s Pier 38

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I love the North Shore.

 

I have been fortunate enough to visit Hawaii several times. All of the trips have been during the coldest, dreariest months on the east coast and it is such a welcome relief from the grey days. You may have noticed by now, that I struggle to post in real time, and that’s OK. #WinterIsComing again this year, and this will still be relevant then. Plus – it’s never actually winter in Hawaii so go whenever you want. Now that’s settled, on with our trip.

We stayed at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Resort, and we could not love this place more. It was the third time I have stayed here and the views, the room, the pool, everything is great. The rooms are all condos so you have room to spread out and can cook in the room if you want. We made breakfast in most days, and also used the grills a few nights for dinner. We were also perfectly happy with all of the food and drinks that we had at the resorts restaurants and bars.

Ko Olina is a resort area on the southwest end of the island of Oahu. There is also a Disney Resort here and a Four Seasons. Each of the resorts are self contained on their own private a bay, meaning that you don’t necessarily encounter the guests from any of the other resorts unless you want to. But, being that there are so many resorts in the area, restaurants and shops have popped up nearby, so you have more to choose from. The only  restaurant in Ko Olina that we tried on this trip was Monkey Pod, and it was fantastic. We loved the outdoor area and listening to the music. I particularly like the Ko Olina area because it is not busy. It is about a 30 minute drive from Waikiki Beach which is where people often think of when they visit Oahu. While Waikiki is beautiful as well, it can be quite crowded in the tourist areas.

For the most part, we just relaxed and toured around the island. We ate our weight in poke, we drank drinks with little umbrellas in them, we watched the sunset everyday. You know, the good stuff. I don’t have an earth shattering guide to the island but just a few fun things that we did and loved.

We spent two of the days on the beach at the North Shore. During the winter months the waves here are unbelievable and just watching the surfers all day while I relax in the sunshine is enough for me. We had shave iced one day and acai bowls one day, because whats a trip to Hawaii without those? We also pulled over on a random beach on the way to check out a monk seal that was sunning herself.

We hiked Diamond Head for the first time. The views from the top are beautiful, and well worth the hike up. More on this later.

We toured Pearl Harbor as well. I have been before and like the last time it was such a somber experience to think about what happened there. It was kind of a bummer not to be able to get out of the boat and go onto the memorial platform, as I had this opportunity on a previous trip, but still worth experiencing history first hand the way that you are able to here.

As for restaurants… We had a delicious lunch at Uncle Bobo’s after we randomly came across it driving around the island. We enjoyed an amazing dinner at Duke’s on Waikiki Beach. The Hula Pie at Duke’s is worth every. single. calorie. We loved the lunch we had at Nico’s Pier 38. They have a huge variety of things, and it was fun to sit outside and watch the ships be unloaded. We had a fun lunch at Lulu’s on Waikiki beach. The view and vibe here was the best  part. Finally, we discovered Paul John’s Lumpia which is a Filipino restaurant in a neighborhood in Kapolei. The food here was good and it was really nice to try something different, as this is not something we would usually find at home.

We spent last our last afternoon at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Before, you’re all like, who spends their afternoon in a cemetery… it is located in what is called Punchbowl Crater. It sits high above Honolulu, the views here are stunning, and their is of course a lot of history to take in as well. It was the perfect stop to spend some time taking in the views before heading to the airport.

I also have two cousins who live on Oahu. (How lucky are they?) One is a teacher and one is in the Marine’s stationed at Kaneohe Bay. It was really fun to get to see both of them on the trip.

As a completely random side note, if you’re going to Hawaii from the east coat of the US (like us) I prefer my connection to be in Dallas or Phoenix. I have found that although the travel time is essentially the same, when you connect on the west coast (usually LAX) the flight isn’t quite as long so you end up on a somewhat smaller plane that isn’t as comfortable. And it is still a long flight from LAX. We typically fly American so that could have something to do with it too. And for anyone still wondering if the tortuously long flight will be worth it. YES. It will.

Have you been to Hawaii before? What island was your favorite? What time of year did you go? What were some favorite things you did?

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#WanderlustWednesday

Venice, Italy

#Venice #BoatCruise #ItalyDreaming

  • This week two South American countries have issued travel warnings against the US in the wake of the multiple mass shootings.
  • To check or carry-on that is the question? I personally don’t mind checking my bag.
  • U.S. News released their annual report of the best travel rewards programs.
  • Here are nine cities where you can take in the views from public transit. Hint – Venice makes the list.
  • There is a down side to the travel industry – the effect on the environment. Here are 50 travel companies that are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint.

#WanderlustWednesday

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Florence, Italy

#theduomo #cathedralatsunset #chasingsunsets

  • You should travel. Travel is important. Here’s why.
  • Insider advice from a 24 year old who won the Best Job in the World Campaign and spent 3 months travelling Europe.
  • Travara – the worlds first purpose-driven travel and lifestyle media platform to align with Sustainable Development Goals launched today. Check them out.
  • Did you hear that several major airlines are raising their checked baggage fees? Again?!

#WanderlustWednesday

Southport, North Carolina

#happyplacebythesea #intracoastalwaterway #hurricaneflorence

Hurricane Florence has devastated the entire eastern part of North Carolina. While there is significant damage to the area, we think our beloved happy place has been mostly spared. Bridges and roads in to town are flooded out, so we won’t know for sure until we are able to visit. In the wake of Hurricane Florence here’s what you can do to help:

  • The Carolina Panthers have teamed up with Visit North Carolina and Discover South Carolina to show their support with these #Careolinas shirts with all proceeds benefiting relief efforts
  • The Shop Forward released Carolina Strong shirts with all proceeds benefiting relief efforts
  • Help The Red Cross. Find a blood drive near you here. Make a donation to the Red Cross recovery efforts here. Sign up to be a Red Cross volunteer in NC or SC here.
  • Support the Salvation Army’s Hurricane Florence relief efforts
  • Donate to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund here or by texting FLORENCE to 20222.
  • Register with the state of North Carolina to be a volunteer. They are urging people not to self deploy to the area, instead register and let them know how you can help so your skills can be best used. Check here for other volunteer opportunities in North Carolina.
  • The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina supports some of the hardest hit areas. Give to their efforts here.
  • The Diaper Bank of North Carolina is in need of supplies. You can donate to them here or purchase items from their Amazon wish list.
  • Check this article for a few other organizations you may consider helping, and some important reminders to think about before you donate to any unfamiliar groups.
  • Remember while many people are in need of material items, water, medicine, and non perishable food, cash donations can help ensure that organizations are able to purchase those items which are in the highest demand. They can also be purchased locally which can help to stimulate the local economy. Only donate material items to those organizations which are specifically requesting you do so.
  • To find the latest on power outages, road conditions, and storm cleanup in North Carolina.

#WanderlustWednesday

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Sunset Beach, St. Maarten

#chasingsunsets #watchingairplanes

  • Every time I hear this song on the radio I think of sitting on Sunset Beach watching the planes land at SXM
  • Would you go on the worlds longest cruise? 254 days. I. Would. Not.
  • Pack your bags and head for Alabama to check out America’s best restaurant. The James Beard Foundation annual awards were announced Monday. Check out all the other winners.
  • The most epic road trip.
  • Learn to shop like a royal.
  • Add these rainbow mountains to the bucket list.

 

#WanderlustWednesday

Hawaiian sunsets… is there anything better?
#hawaii #sunsets #daydreams

  • May 11 is National Public Gardens Day, gardens across the country will offer free admission.
  • Searching for all things travel sized? This company might make it.
  • This is politics we can get behind….literally. Bipartisan legislation to prevent airlines seats from shrinking further.
  • Get paid to travel the US all summer and promote booze. Dream Job? I think so.
  • All your airline booking questions answered by the experts.

Costa Rica – Pura Vida

On the next day of our trip we met Jhonny bright and early in the hotel lobby to go on the Buena Vista Tour. Again, we can’t say enough nice things about Jhonny and he really made our trip, but we did not have an English speaking guide. We drove close to two hours to the area near Arenal Volcano, stopping at Llanos de Cortes waterfall on the way to check out the view. If this had been our only stop we probably would have gone in swimming, but thinking of being soaking wet in the car for the next hour or more did not seem fun so we opted for just taking a few pictures.

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Llanos De Cortes Waterfall

After checking out the waterfall Jhonny was nice enough to stop and buy us fresh coconuts from a roadside stand. It was my first time trying fresh coconut water and it was so good! When we arrived for the Buena Vista tour a guide led us down 15 hanging bridges. We opted for the bridges over ziplining because we chickened out, but I think the bridges may have been just as scary if not more. We were high in the trees and the bridges shook and jumped with every move. We did see some monkeys and other animals so that was really neat.

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Buena Vista Hanging Bridges
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Jhonny!!
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#PIMPINJOY
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. Can you see how far the ground is below?

After surviving the bridges,we changed in to swimsuits and hiked up to the top of a water slide that had been built through the forest. It was so fun, it’s pretty long (about 500 meters) and really sent us flying down the hill it was built into. Then we were served a traditional Costa Rican meal. We then met up with the cowboys who got us ready to ride horses to a volcanic spring, where we were able to swim and relax.

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This wrapped up the Buena Vista tour, and we headed back to the hotel. It was a busy and full day, but we loved having the chance to experience so many things in one place. After the two hour drive, we got back just in time to take in another beautiful sunset at the resort and order room service for dinner.

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Most of the rest of the trip was spent at the resort. We took a shuttle in to Tamarindo on our second to last day to do some shopping and eat diner. We saw what was maybe the most beautiful sunset of the trip from the beach. Seriously the sunsets in CR were unreal, watching the sun drop right into the Pacific without a cloud in sight was so amazing. We stopped in a restaurant for the best shrimp and mango ceviche and just took in the views. We enjoyed the evening in Tamarindo, but I would say we had a better experience when we went the first time during the day. There were a lot of people on the beach and the sidewalks that were selling stuff and just generally harassing tourist, we didn’t have this experience during the day light.

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We spent the final two days of the trip relaxing around the resort. Swimming in the pool, ordering food and drinks (and ice cream) by the pool, walking on the beach, and just being lazy. We went back and had dinner at Sabanero Steakhouse our last night. It was so nice to have the chance to relax and take it all in.

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All the stars!! From the pool deck at night!

Costa Rica you sure were beautiful! We can’t wait to return! Any tips or suggestions for a return trip? Leave them in the comments. If you missed the first part of our trip, find it here.

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