San Antonio, Texas

My husband, Alan, and I started our Texas Road trip from Houston and made our way southwest toward San Antonio to hit two favorite hotspots, the Riverwalk and The Alamo. We were pleasantly surprised to make a third stop north of San Antonio, Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, a scenic ranchland with over 500 animals roaming freely over 400 acres of land. (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Ehiku: Ali’i Lavender Farm & Surfing Goat Dairy Farm)

Our last day in Maui, while less adventurous than the rest of our trip, served as a relaxing finale to the trip. We ended our trip with a bang (of flavor), dining at Star Noodle – Top Chef Season 10 finalist and fan favorite, Chef Sheldon Simeon’s Asian Fusion restaurant. The rest of the day was left to explore Kula’s culinary gems, Ali’i Lavender Farm and the Surfing Goat Dairy Farm.  (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Eono: Mount Haleakalā, Iao Valley, Napili Bay)

We woke up early to enjoy fresh Kona coffee, lilikoi, starfruit, and banana bread from the farmer’s market on our balcony, and we watched as a double rainbow revealed itself over Ka’anapali Beach. For me, Maui was an island of diversity – it offered me the ability to snorkel in the most beautiful beaches around the world, while a massive shield volcano loomed miles away, and miles from that boasted a tropical jungle. Today we were visiting the last active volcano in Hawai’i outside of the Big Island, Haleakalā. Dating tests have indicated that it last erupted in the late 1700s.

(more…)

Maui, HI (‘Elima: ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Pipiwai Trail, Hamoa, Red Sand Beach, Wai’anapanapa State Park)

Our journey along the backside of Mount Haleakala started early Wednesday morning in hopes that we would make it to the ‘Ohe’o Gulch and Pipiwai Trail before the crowds. Traveling up the backside of Mount Haleakala also allowed us to avoid traffic, as a great number of people forego this beautiful drive due to rental restrictions. The backside of Mount Haleakala is known to host particularly sharp, curvy, unpaved roads with high cliffsides overlooking the coast. While it can be considerably dangerous, particularly during heavy rainfall, I cannot imagine traveling to Maui and missing out on the beautiful views of the upcountry fields or the volcanic cliffsides. (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Ehā: Rafting & Snorkeling)

Alan and I woke before sunrise for our rafting and snorkeling venture. We chose to tour with a company called Blue Water (known for their personalized, adventurous excursions) in hopes that we may avoid a typical tourist-centric trip out to sea. The Kanaio and Molokini Snorkel and Rafting excursion fit our tall order. The tour allowed us to observe a variety of remote snorkeling sites, sea turtle habitats, and a rare, uninhabited part of the island, the volcanic Kanaio coast. (more…)

Hang Gliding Maui, Hana, HI

Hang gliding in Maui proved to be the highlight of our trip! We arrived at the Hana airport to meet Armin, an FAA-certified flight instructor and tandem hang gliding pilot, who was going to be teaching us how to pilot a motorized hang glider, commonly referred to as a “trike.” The aircraft featured tandem seating (much like that of a motorcycle), as well as dual control from front and rear seats, and a backup ballistic parachute system, which acted as a way to insure our safety. The micro-light aircraft featured a hang gliding wing and weight shift operation, very much like a traditional hang glider, but was powered by a reliable 912cc 4-cycle Rotax aircraft engine. This type of trike offered comfort and convenience, allowing us to enjoy more flight time high above Hana.  (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Ekolu: Hana Highway, Hang Gliding)

For our third day in Maui we decided to drive the famed Hana Highway (aka Route 36/306). This winding, 52 mile (84 km) drive proved to be an arduous, but rewarding trip. It runs from Kahului to Hana; the daring travelers can continue on past Hana and explore the backside of Mount Haleakala (as we had). Well known to travelers, the “Road to Hana” made National Geographic’s “Drives of a Lifetime” list and topped Travel + Leisure’s list of “America’s Most Scenic Roads.” Writer, Jerry Camarilla Dunn Jr. explains, “the drive is a cliff hanger that strains many a driver’s equanimity.” One might ask, what is the reward? “The modern world seems distant,” says Dunn, “everyday cares fade into a papaya-colored sunset, and tensions simply blow away in the trade wind.” I concur with that statement wholeheartedly. In fact, every worrisome or nagging thought became a fleeting moment on the Road to Hana. (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Elua: ‘Ulupalakua Winery & Kula Botanical Gardens)

We started our day with a beautiful drive to the Tedeschi Vineyards located in ‘Ulupalakua, upcountry Maui. When we left West Maui I immediately noticed the transition to the quiet and peaceful countryside. The drive allowed us an opportunity to slow down and soak up the scenery. We were away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist towns/attractions, and we were more likely to see a cow or a mongoose than another person.  (more…)

Maui, HI (‘Ekahi: Farmers Market, Feast at Lele)

Our first day in Maui was centered around exploring the island and taking in its beauty. I got off of the plane and first noticed the mountainous range next to the airport, then a beach at its base. Kanaha Beach is just a hop, a skip, and a jump away – only a leisurely three-minute drive from the airport. We visited the farmers market on the roadside (to Lahaina). They sold fruit smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut candy (more on that later) and homemade banana bread. The market stands held dragon fruit, mango, pineapple, starfruit, papaya, coconut, avocados, and taro.

(more…)

Seattle, WA

I fell in love with Seattle rather quickly. In my humble opinion, the art, culture, and quirkiness of Seattle is something that makes it one of the most vibrant and unique cities in America. We happened to be there during Pride Fest, which ignited the streets with color, music, and happy faces. I have a deep respect for this funky city and its ability to promote individuality, creativity, and acceptance. I feel that this understanding bonds people within a community; it reinforces its ability to thrive – and the evidence of that can be seen in Seattle.

(more…)