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Category Archives: big adventures

Photo Friday: Shave Ice in Hawaii


What could make a 2-year-old happier than a bowl of rainbow shave ice that’s as big as her head?

If you’re ever in Lahaina, try Annie’s Island Shave Ice.

To see photos from other travellers, check out Photo Friday at the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

Photo Friday: Wedding Procession at Meiji Shrine

Wedding at Meiji Shrine

For more information on Japanese weddings: Japanese Weddings (This explains that the bride usually wears a white kimono during the ceremony and then changes into another kimono before the reception. It appears that the bride is wearing a black kimono in the picture, so I assume this means the ceremony has already taken place. If you know more about these traditions, please leave a comment. I’d love to learn more about it!)

For more information on the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo: Meiji Shrine, Wikipedia

To see photos from other travellers, check out Photo Friday at the family travel blog Delicious Baby.

Missing Maui

Today, I’m missing Maui. Our trip to the island wasn’t that long ago, and yet I couldn’t possibly feel further away right now. I look back at the pictures sometimes and can’t believe a place like this exists…and it’s even crazier to think that I was ever there.

For instance, here I am in the ocean:


Even the drive from the airport to the hotel was awesome. I remember updating my Facebook status and saying something about the “bluest blues and the greenest greens.” This is what I mean:



How is it possible that a place like this exists?

Some people say that spending money on travel isn’t wise. It would make more sense, especially in this economy, to save the money. Maybe they’re right. However, I’m thankful everyday that my daughter asks about Hawaii. I’m glad she knows what a real sea turtle looks like. I love it that she periodically asks me if we can “go out-of-town.” This is why I travel–not only to fulfill my own travel dreams, but to encourage my daughter to be curious about the world. What could be more worthwhile than that?

To read more about our Maui trip, read my post Adventures on Maui: Until Next Time.

Abroad? Yes. Studying? A Little


If I look particularly young and refreshed in the above picture, it’s because it was taken eight years ago. The summer after my junior year of college, I went on a summer study abroad trip to Italy and Germany. And thus started my obsession with travel.

I was so excited about the trip, I was sure some catastrophic event would prevent me from getting to Europe. Maybe I’d get hit by a bus. Or there would be a problem with my passport. But there was no way that little old me would end up living such an incredible dream.

Luckily, I made it to Europe without any problems. This was my first trip outside of the United States. I still remember the way I felt as I looked out the window of the plane. Even though we were thousands of feet in the air, Italy looked so different from my home country.

It was an unforgettable experience. I gazed up at Michelangelo’s ceiling in Rome, drank wine in Florence, ate pretzels in Munich, and stood by Albrecht Durer’s gravesite in Nuremberg.

Looking at this picture, taken in Florence, is bittersweet for me. So much has happened since then, both good and bad. My mom passed away, I earned a Master’s degree, I got married, I had a baby, I wondered if I would ever sleep again, I wondered how I managed to be so lucky.

Remember to check out other travel photos at Delicious Baby’s weekly Photo Friday.

Just an added note: my heart goes out to the families at Fort Hood and to the men and women who risk their lives EVERY day.

Adventures on Maui: Until Next Time

This is the last post in my series on our recent trip to Maui.


I have two pieces of advice for anyone planning a trip to this beautiful island:

1. Consider travelling in the off-season. We visited Maui in October, and we’ve already decided that if (when!) we go back for a second visit, we’ll be travelling during the same time of year. The beaches weren’t crowded, the weather was perfect, and we didn’t have any long waits to be seated at popular restaurants. All of these factors are particularly important for those travelling with children.

2. Read Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty. This is one of the most useful guidebooks I’ve ever read. I love that the author is straightforward in terms of describing what is and isn’t worth your vacation time. You’ll find information about beaches, restaurants, activities, hotels, etc. And maps! The book is filled with detailed (but not too detailed) maps of various parts of the island.

To read more about our adventures on Maui, check out the following posts:

A Few Surprises

Banyan Tree Park

Review: Maui Hyatt Regency

Adventures on Maui: The Basics

Some destinations stick with you more than others. Our time on Maui couldn’t have been better, and this trip will always hold a special place in my heart. Although I’m sure we’ll return someday, we’ll never visit the island again for the first time. Our daughter will never run on Kaanapali beach again as a two year old.

Farewell, Maui. Until next time…

Adventures on Maui: A Few Surprises

Over the next several days, I’ll be writing a series of posts about our recent trip to Maui.

One of the reasons I love to travel is the thrill of finding the unexpected.

During our trip to Maui, the three of us were on our way back to the hotel after lunch. Our original plan was to put E. down for a nap, but she fell asleep in the car. We didn’t want to disturb her, so we decided to keep driving past our hotel and see where the road would take us. (We took Honoapiilani Highway north, past the resorts.)

We stopped at a few scenic overlooks, and here’s what we saw:

(The white dot in the above picture is a kayaker.)

We took turns getting out of the car, since E. was asleep in the backseat. It was fun to come back to the car and say, “Wow. You’ll never believe THAT,” or “You’re right! That’s the best overlook so far.”

If E. hadn’t fallen asleep, we probably wouldn’t have travelled further down the road past our hotel. And even if we had discovered these spots, we might not have gotten out of the car, fearing that it wouldn’t be safe for E. But because things didn’t go as planned, we got to enjoy some lovely views from western Maui.

Everyone was happy: Nick and I got to enjoy the views and enjoy some (semi-) alone time. E. had a much-needed nap and was ready to hit the beach later in the afternoon. Mission accomplished!

Remember to check out Photo Friday at Delicious Baby!

To read more about our Maui adventures, click here.

Adventures on Maui: the Hyatt Regency

Over the next several days, I’ll be writing a series of posts on our recent trip to the island of Maui.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, located on the western end of the island. When you drive to Kaanapali Beach from the airport, the Hyatt is the first in a fairly long row of resorts in this area.

The grounds of the hotel are amazing. A large Japanese garden spills into the lobby and contains a variety of birds: warm-weather penguins, flamingos, swans, and cranes. E. loved looking at the birds everyday as we came and went from the hotel.


The public areas of the hotel are decorated with Asian art from Japan, China, and Thailand. Many of these artworks date to the 18th or 19th century.


We were very happy with our room. The bed was very comfortable. The bathroom area was nice and large, and the room also included an actual walk-in closet, rather than the small, creepy sliding-door kind found in many hotel rooms. I liked that the room also included an empty frig, in addition to the super-expensive mini-bar fridge. We also had a fairly large flatscreen t.v.


Only one complaint about our room: the balcony was very small. Although there was a small table with two chairs, it would have been almost impossible for all three of us to sit or stand on the balcony at the same time. And even if Nick and I wanted to sit there while E. was asleep, reaching the farthest of the two chairs from the door took some effort. But hey, the mountain view rocked. (Sorry. Bad joke.) We actually had what would be termed by some hotels as a partial-ocean view. Nice!

The highlight(s) of this hotel, in my opinion, are the two pools. The regular pool is quite large and is located near the beach. This pool feeds under a waterfall and into the grotto (complete with swim-up bar), which then feeds through another waterfall and into the kids’ pool area. The kids’ pool features two slides (one of which was tame enough for E. to ride down on my lap), several spraying fountains, and a large bridge. A portion of the kids’ pool is covered with tiny sand-like rocks that E. loved to play in. The best part was that this wasn’t actual sand, so it was much easier to get E. cleaned up at the end of the day.


The hotel is located on Kaanapali Beach, although this portion of the beach is much narrower than it is further up by the Marriott and some of the other resorts. However, we did spend time at this portion of the beach and had lots of fun. Also, the wider portion of the beach is only a ten minute walk from the hotel, so it was still very convenient.

All opinions are my own, as if anyone had any doubt. I wasn’t compensated by the Hyatt Regency in any way to write this review.

Adventures on Maui: the Basics

Over the next several days, I’ll be writing a series of posts on our recent trip to the island of Maui.


Aloha! Here are the basics of our first trip to Hawaii:

Who: Sarah, Nick, and 2 year old E.

What: a sunny, warm, beach vacation

When: mid-October 2009, six nights

Where: Maui. We stayed on the western side of the island near Kaanapali Beach. I’ll be writing more about our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, in a future post.


Why: We’ve been wanting to visit Hawaii for years, and we finally decided that there’s no time like the present! E. is old enough now to enjoy travelling and new experiences. She particularly loved playing at the beach. Other highlights: a ride on a glass-bottom boat, swimming in the kids’ pool at the Hyatt, and listening to traditional Hawaiian music.


How: We travelled during the off-season to avoid the crowds and to save some money on our flight and hotel. We booked the flight, hotel, and rental car through Expedia. In terms of planning, we used Maui Revealed by Andrew Doughty and found it to be extremely helpful.

Check back soon to read more about the hotel, yummy food, and kid-friendly activities that made our trip so wonderful.

Back from Maui

We just returned from our first trip to Hawaii, and I was totally blown away. Usually by the end of a trip, I’m ready to come home and return to my own bed and a normal schedule. But not this time. I think all three of us were sad to say goodbye to this beautiful island.

We took the red-eye flight last night, so I will keep today’s post very brief. I will be writing a series of posts on Maui in the coming days.

For now, I’ll just leave you with a picture:


I took this photo a few nights ago on Kaanapali Beach. I miss it already.

Please stay tuned for more on our Maui adventure. Aloha!

The Big Move

Since it’s mid-September, I guess it’s time to admit that summer is officially over. And what a summer it’s been! We moved from the midwest to southern Texas, E. served as a flower girl at our friend’s wedding in North Carolina, and we enjoyed a weekend trip to Chicago. We also started exploring our new hometown and the surrounding area, booked our next big trip, and renewed our vow to workout on a regular basis. I’m tired just thinking about it.

As for our journey from Ohio to Texas, it already seems like old news to me! But since the big drive was pre-blog, I figured I would write about it now before I forget the details.,+oh&daddr=nashville,+tn+to:Little+Rock,+ar+to:Dallas,+TX+to:San+Antonio,+tx&hl=en&geocode=&mra=ls&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=41.818029,92.900391&ie=UTF8&ll=34.270836,-91.494141&spn=12.6965,18.676758&t=p&z=5&output=embed
View Larger Map

We decided to take the Nashville–Memphis–Little Rock–Dallas–San Antonio route with a few of our military friends who were also moving to Texas. Although we each drove at our own pace, we stayed at the same hotels and met up for dinner each night. Our overnight stops were in Nashville, Little Rock, and Dallas.

We left Ohio after 5:00 on a Friday evening, so we didn’t get to Nashville until late. The first leg of the drive was uneventful, although the countryside in Kentucky was really quite pretty. By the time we reached Nashville, I was exhausted! We hit the sack as soon as we got to our room. The next day, we met up with my cousin for coffee, had lunch with our friends, and hit the road. Nashville seems like a blur when I think back.

The drive through Arkansas wasn’t nearly as pretty as Kentucky, but there wasn’t much traffic and the weather was good, so I really can’t complain. I felt a little hesitant about our impending stay in Little Rock. I had heard some not-so-nice things about the city and didn’t know what to expect. We stayed near the Clinton Presidential Library, and I have to say…I LOVED IT. From what I saw of Little Rock, I thought it was quite charming.

We ate dinner at Bosco’s, which had tasty food and great beer. E. was super-good that night. She was very patient while everyone finished eating and entertained herself by coloring lots of pictures. She must have been tired! The girls and I took a quick walk while the guys had another beer. It was Saturday night, and the area was crowded with people going out to bars and restaurants. We felt totally comfortable walking at night in the area, although it might be less crowded during the week.

The next morning, Nick, E., and I went by the Clinton Presidential Library before it opened for the day to take some pictures. I love taking pictures of architecture, so I took several. I had been anxious to see the building, since I had read some critical things about its design. I liked it; definitely modern, but nothing too shocking.

After lunch in Little Rock, we got on the road for our third day of driving. After an uneventful drive, we finally reached Dallas. This felt like an accomplishment; we were finally in our new homestate! After checking-in at the hotel, the girls and I asked the front desk guy for recommendations for dinner. We decided we wanted BBQ, and of course we mentioned that the restaurant had to be kid-friendly. We were directed to Bone Daddy’s. Upon our arrival, we discovered that it is basically the BBQ version of Hooter’s! We were a little surprised, but they did have a kid’s menu and descent food, so it worked out fine. We all had a good laugh.

The next morning, we went downtown to Dealey Plaza to see the infamous grassy knoll. I remember learning about Kennedy’s assassination in school, and it was really interesting to see the site in-person. Somehow, it seemed much smaller in person, not as expansive as it seemed on television. There were a fair number of people there: some of them taking pictures with tripods, studying the area carefully. Others were running out to the X on the road, which marks where Kennedy was shot, and posing for pictures. It was definitely odd. We ate lunch, got back on the road one more time, and headed south towards Austin.

We didn’t stop much on the way to San Antonio. We were so anxious to get to our new hometown. Once we got here, we headed to our future home first, even though we’d be spending the night in a hotel. After checking out the new pad, we ate dinner at a Greek restaurant, visited the Alamo, and checked-in at our temporary home. Luckily, our furniture arrived a few days later, and we were able to move into our house that same week.

Considering the drive was 1,200 miles, I feel like I should have some…thoughts?…feelings?…about the trip. I saw places I had never been to before, and E. racked up a few states on her travel map. Yet, the most exciting part of this trip was arriving here in San Antonio and realizing that all of the preparation had paid off.


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