Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Much Needed Getaway

It's been a little over two months since we went to Hawaii, and I've finally gotten myself organized enough to blog about it! For this trip, we decided to go to the Big Island and then head to Oahu. Since the house is on Oahu, ending there means we can do laundry before we come home, which makes me suuuper happy. I don't think I've ever felt like I needed a vacation until this trip. I've always been excited and ready when we take vacations, however this was the first time I felt like I would probably implode if I had to wait one. more. second.

Day 1: unpack and eat

We arrived mid-afternoon, grabbed our car, and drove to the hotel. We stayed at the Mauna Lani which is on the beach in Kona. While pretty much nothing we were planning on doing was in Kona, there weren't any hotels we were jazzed about closer to the other side of the island. We knew that meant we'd spend a few hours driving each day since it's about an hour and a half from one side to the other, and we were happy to do that thanks to the view!

The whole hotel was open air which felt glorious!

There were little lanais all over the hotel that would have been perfect little reading nooks

After we got settled we did the only appropriate thing there was to do... a long walk on the beach on the way to dinner!

Day 2: eat, segway, eat, volcano, eat... do you see a pattern here?

Each morning we'd start the day with a walk on the beach which felt like the ultimate luxury. I haven't been as relaxed and unplugged as I was on this vacation in a solid three years. It was a conscious choice to really and truly disconnect, and the only purpose my phone served was to take and post pictures to document the sheer joy of togetherness and adventure. I even decided I wouldn't do my hair other than a quick braid to keep it out of my face, and oh how liberating it was to just let it air dry and be done with it!

What's a Hawaiian vacation without lying in a hammock on the beach?

We found ourselves at Hawaiian Style Cafe two of our three mornings on the Big Island. We severely underestimated the portion sizes. 

Left: kalua pig hash, fried rice, over hard egg
Right: churro style French toast
Not pictured: an entire plate of bacon, which they falsely labeled as a "side" of bacon on the menu 

After breakfast we drove to Hilo for some sights and segwaying. Judge all you want, segwaying is the most fun thing on the planet. You can cover a huge distance and it's just plain FUN. If you're against fun, then fine, be against segwaying. Otherwise, let go of the fact that you look like a complete goof and just embrace that it's worth it.

This stretch was one of my favorites on the way to Hilo!

We were supposed to go on an advanced off road segway tour, however the trails on the side of the mountain had largely been washed out from a ton of rain, so it got cancelled and we went on a tour that I figured was going to be significantly less fun. We were very pleasantly surprised that a big focus of the tour ended up being going around their property and picking fruit off of trees. We sampled tons of indigenous fruit, pretty much none of which I remember the name of, except for my favorite which is called abiu, pronounced ah-bee-you (our tour guide helped us remember its name with the saying "I be you, you be me").

Abiu is now, by far, my most favorite fruit. Imagine a fruit the size and shape of an orange, the color of a lemon, and smooth like apple though thick like an orange. The meat inside has a consistency somewhere between an extremely juicy peach and an orange, and it tastes a little bit like a pear. Spoiler alert: I loved it so much it turns out John is shipping some in from Brazil as my Christmas present!! What a husband I have :)

View from the side of the highway

Akaka Falls

After our tour we headed to Kilauea to see the lava. It's hard (impossible?) to see in this photo that there's lava in the crater. We could see it with the naked eye from this vantage point, and there was a rainbow right in front of us as well! This is the first rainbow I've ever seen the end of, and, hate to say there was no pot of gold. Maybe on the other end?

Day 3: eat, zipline, eat, eat

The next morning at Hawaiian Style Cafe, John went for some pancakes that ended up being the width of his torso! We were thoroughly fueled for the day ahead of us.

The zipline experience we had on the Big Island was the best one we've had. The focus was 100% on the zip and the view, and they had customer service that went above and beyond what I could have hoped for. If you ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend KapohoKine Adventures.

Our first step was to drive out to the prep site. I wish I had taken a photo--this was a fully fledged log structure on stilts that was the most legitimate beginning to a zip we've ever had. Backpacks were complimentary which was a great perk, so John carried our water bottles and other essentials.

Our first zip was quick and easy, though very high off the ground. Heights make me queasy so zipping is always outside my comfort zone!

A few zips in I was starting to feel a little less panicky!

The views on this tour were the best we've ever seen. We went over tons of big water falls, and we had a little lunch break in a really nice covered area that overlooked some gorgeous scenery. Lunch was an additional charge, and I almost decided to skip it because the usual deli meat wrap never leaves me feeling like the money was worth it, however I was concerned we'd be starving so I decided to pay for it. Little did I know the lunch would be delicious! We had kalua pig sandwiches from a local shop on some delicious bread with ice cold water (anyone else not a fan of room temp water?!), taro chips, and baskets of fresh fruit to graze on! It was a true little meal and is just one of the many reasons I can't recommend this company enough.

John was a fan of the cannonball position to maximize his speed.

Gorgeous views!

Can you see John? :)

One of my favorites of the whole trip!

After zipping we got some malasadas from a local place and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up. Our last stop of on the Big Island was dinner at Merriman's, which was by far the best meal we'd had up to that point. Casual fine dining was the perfect way to end our time on the Big Island!

Day 4: eat, fly to Oahu, eat

The airport on the Big Island was all open air. I'm used the airport in Honolulu which has a lot of outdoor elements, however the one on the Big Island was just semi-covered seating. It made me very glad it wasn't raining! We flew Hawaiian Air and the seats were teal leather and seemed super sleek and modern, which are not words I would have ever thought I'd use to describe a plane!

When we landed, my dad's cousin Gayle picked us up and then we headed to the grocery store to stock up! A few musts on our list: Hawaiian sweet bread (I get plain, John gets cinnamon), mangoes, and lilikoi jam,

No big deal... just $8 for this half gallon of milk

Once we were settled in at the house, we went through some of my grandfather's old documents. It was so cool to look at his accomplishments as he became a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force.

My favorite things to do in Honolulu are the same each time--for me, there's comfort and happiness in familiar places and I love the feeling of recreating what I did when I was a kid. One of those places is the apartments my grandparents built in the '50s, which is where we used to stay when I was little. Ever since my grandparents sold them a decade or so ago, they've never looked the same and I know my dad's heart is more than a little broken that they cut down the avocado and the mango trees.

I found this photo of them from back in the day. They look just like I would expect them to knowing my grandmother was caring for them--immaculate and inviting.

In the '90s, my grandparents built a home about half a mile away from the apartments where they lived for many years to come. Like the apartments, it was immaculate.

Another favorite childhood activity was to drive and/or hike up Tantalus to get a great view of the city. Going up always makes me wonder who in their right mind would live up there... hairpin turns and homes on the edge of the mountain are outside my comfort zone!


Did I mention we ate a lot?

Koren plate lunch

Best shaved ice on the island!
As much as I enjoy our trips, I'm always happiest to come home to this little love of ours. 

Next up on the #bohnevacation agenda: New Orleans in the next few months and Chicago for my birthday!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Swing & Miss

Most of the time, the projects I've taken on have been a success. That's not to say they don't have road bumps, unexpected steps, and sometimes a lot of problem solving, however they usually end up working out the way I envisioned, give or take. And then, every now and then, I just have an epic failure.

Right at a year ago now, I installed a screen door to the back porch. It wasn't perfect, however I was happy with how it looked and functioned. As time went on, it started looking sadder... and sadder....... and sadder. Finally, it was sagging to such a degree that there was basically no point in having it at all because the gap was so large bugs could just fly straight inside with plenty of room to spare. Plus, the spray paint sealant didn't seem to do much (can't say I'm too surprised) and it slowly started greying and deteriorating.

I decided it was time to take it down (which of course took 30 seconds, as compared to hours of work to get it hung) and ordered this hanging screen to take its place. It's basically a piece of mesh with a slit down the middle and a magnet to keep it closed when you're not using it. It hangs from a tension rod and does a great job filling the space. It came with some velcro pieces that you can stick to the door frame, however for now it's just hanging and doesn't seem to need the extra anchoring.

It took some trial and error to get here and I'm really happy with the new solution! The screen door looked cute when it was freshly hung, however it never fit perfectly because the door frame isn't square, whereas the hanging mesh fills the space with a lot of flexibility. 

We're supposed to have a rainy week in Austin and John and I have already enjoyed a day of having the door open and listening to this weather!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Flying South(ern California) for the Winter

It seems that January has become the traditional month for us to go on a vacation. We started in 2014 with our honeymoon to Kauai & Oahu, and then we visited San Francisco in 2015, and this year we visited San Diego. Each year as we plan when and where to go, January seems to always stand out as one of the quietest months in both of our professions--less real estate for me to pour over (by the way... I need to update you all on my new gig in another post!) and less BBQ events for John.

We have a long list of places we want to go, however we've been trying to stick to shorter trips (around 4-5 days), so that limits us to the US. We're further narrowed by the type of weather in January, because places we'd love to go like DC or Portland or Seattle aren't going to be nearly as fun in the winter as they would be otherwise. So, this year we found ourselves back in California, and it was marvelous!

Just like our trip to San Francisco, we decided to segway. Say what you will about it looking silly, we just know there's no better way to cover ground and see the sights! And, sights aside, it's fun! We saw huge areas of the city this way, and it's great because you're out and about with a guide who's teaching you the lay of the land. We lucked out on this trip and managed to be the only people on our tours, so we got to go wherever we wanted rather than sticking strictly to the regular plan. We segwayed all through Balboa Park, Mission Bay and Mission Beach, and all over La Jolla.  

Seals at La Jolla 
La Jolla

Sea Lions at La Jolla

Botanical Garden in Balboa Park
During our tour of Mission Beach we came across a group of about 200 people doing a group yoga class outside overlooking the ocean. Our guide told us that the instructor lived right across the street from this spot, and that the city was getting after him for not having a license for the yoga class. What they were more upset about than anything was his pet pig who co-instructed with him. They made him give up the pig, but the yoga class lives on...

Mission Beach
While waiting for one of our guides, we stumbled upon a race in Mission Bay. It started out with kayakers, then came the stand-up paddle boarders, and next was a group of people lying down on the boards and paddling with their arms. Is there a name for that? Who knows. All I do know is that the water was super cold--58 degrees to be exact--and I can't imagine being in it! We were freezing just watching them because the wind was fierce! All in all there were probably 300 of them that went by. They just kept coming and coming.

We also had some yummy food. We had dinner one night at a restaurant called Puesto, and we got to sit next to the kitchen. I watched this gal make a ton of corn tortillas.

Almost all of the tacos had "crispy cheese" which was basically cheese cooked on the griddle. You can see it in the left and center tacos.

One of our favorite places, while not foodie at all, was Hash House A Go Go. Oh my

This place started in San Diego and now exists in some other cities as well. We had no idea it was going to be so huge (this picture doesn't do it justice) so we definitely should have split something. Oh well! I had bacon, onion, avocado, and cheese all melted and mixed together over crispy potatoes, and John got fried chicken benedict. Yowza!

After eating enough food for 6 people, we headed to the zoo. The one thing John really wanted to do was to go on the "Morning with Pandas" tour, so we paid extra to do that and it was so worth it!!

We learned a tremendous amount--all things we never would have known if we had just gone and toured it on our own. For example, each animal has its own "bedroom" that it can go into each night. This is basically a private space that guests can't see, so the zoo as over twice as big as what meets the eye. In the morning, the keepers open the door from their bedroom back to their enclosure, and the animals get to decide if they want to come out for the day into their enclosure. If they don't, they just hang out in their bedroom--no one forces them to come out.

We also got to see some of the pandas that weren't visible to the rest of the public. One of them, their male panda, is named Gao Gao. Did you know that all pandas, all over the world, are owned by China? We were interested to learn that! Even the ones that are born in other countries belong to China. 

Gao Gao was born in the wild and was disrupting some farmers, so he got sent here as kind of a "reject" panda because we needed a male and he is very little and unimpressive looking. No one had very high expectations of him, and he's actually turned out to be quite the stud! The tour guide at the zoo said they all know that "Gao Gao knows how how to do the wow wow." Bahaha.

Chowin down on some bamboo
Did you know that pandas eat bamboo that's so hard it would break a wood chipper? Their jaws are so strong and muscular that their ears wiggle a whole bunch when they chew.

We also got to see tons of other exhibits at the zoo, including a... golden retriever. Yes, that's right. I was confused when we went by an exhibit with a dog in it. As it turns out, pairing cheetahs with a dog helps them stay calm and feel confident. Nuts, huh? Here's proof in case you think I'm crazy.

We also got to feed the giraffes which was fun since I haven't done it since I was a kid! I was one of the lucky ones who actually got to give them a snack before they lost interest. 

Hellooooo there!

One evening we went horseback riding down to the beach. It was super interesting because the path we took was very near the border to Tijuana. I had no idea that the border wall actually extends out into the ocean and then just... stops! I wish I had gotten a picture because it was a weird sight to see.

John's horse was Pokey, mine was Millie. Pokey was preoccupied with rubbing himself (and John) against bushes, while Millie insisted on tripping every 10th step or so :)

It was a great trip! As always, we were happy to come home and sleep in our bed and see our little dog. Nothing like a Sweet Olive to make you miss your routine! I wouldn't trade her doggy kisses for anything.