A Travellerspoint blog

Boogie Boarding on Big Beach

Hawaiian Adventures: Day Two

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Our living arrangements in Maui were simple. While our parents and siblings crowded together in a two room condo, we thought it best to stay at the hotel next door. We would have the luxury of our own space away from the chaos which comes natural to large groups of people confined in a small area. Not to mention, the space at the condo was scant. My sisters were already camped out on the living room floor leaving the only remaining floor space a gap between the toilet and shower. We thought we were so smart as we checked into our kitschy little hotel room complete with a garish print floral bedspread while everyone else next door was contemplating how six people would share two beds. Sure our place had some of the most hideous décor in the Pacific, but the solitude was worth every tacky hibiscus in that place.

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Our first morning in Maui began with a leisurely stroll along Kaanapali Beach. Or to be more precise, our first morning in Maui began somewhere between the hours of three and four as we paced around waiting for the sun to rise (silly time differences). We followed the beach as far as it would take us, noticing along the way that the beach directly in front of our hotel was probably the most dangerous section of shoreline. Here waves crashed over lava rock and coral in a tremendous display. Elsewhere the waves gently rolled, softly splashing against the shore. We quickly decided that today would be a day of beach hopping in an attempt to find the perfect sandy shore.

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We joined our family members for a quick breakfast before we loaded up our fleet of rental cars with boogie boards, snorkel gear, umbrellas, and lounge chairs. Our first stop was to check out Kahekili Beach Park – the sight for our vow renewal (the other choice was Slaughterhouse Beach – but you know… being vegetarian and all…). Kahekili Beach was perfect (technically a part of Kaanapali Beach). The snorkeling is fantastic here, so we of course made the obligatory quick snorkel dive before heading on out to bigger and better beaches.

We made another brief stop at Palauea Beach in Wailea. On my Dad’s last visit he often found sea turtles parked on the beach soaking up the sun here, but our luck was not as good. Rather than spotting any marine animals, we instead got caught up with a particularly drunk local who enjoyed using her middle finger in excess. Between her rants and the noisy construction next door, we moved on.

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As Dan and I have both been to Maui before, we knew just the place to go. I last visited in February of this year (I know you’d like to think that I don’t have a job, but this time it was for work) and fell in love with Big Beach on Maui’s south shore. Here the broad sandy beach stretches forever and the lack of resort development make it a local’s playground. Oh yeah… and the waves are huge. Dan spent several weeks in high school practically camped out on Big Beach where he perfected his boogie boarding skills.

So with sentimental longings, we loaded up the family and headed for Big Beach. Dan was determined to catch a wave and he practically sprinted towards the water upon first stepping foot in the sand. The rest of us grudgingly carried all the beach gear and set up camp in the shade. My dad and sisters quickly joined Dan as they all tried to outdo each other in their own wave riding competition while I lingered by the shore with camera in hand.

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The day wore on and our appetites grew. Dan was starting to resemble a lobster (What is it with him? No matter how much I harass him, I can’t get him to wear sunscreen!), my sisters were fading into what they refer to as “Angry Jen” – a common nickname when referring to my state during extreme hunger, and Dan’s Dad was conked out behind the Life Guard Station with his mouth hanging open – snores, drool, the works.

A late lunch/early dinner was necessary. We headed to Kihei, where we found ourselves in an oddly abandoned, yet highly recommended joint called Lulu’s. With open seating over the ocean, we could still smell the salty sea breezes as we gobbled up a lifetime worth of greasy fries and burgers (veggie, of course). Lulu’s was oddly decorated in an assortment of garage sale finds, while the walls were plastered in hundreds of dollar bills. The open air seating allowed for the assortment of tropical birds to peruse the table in search of a free meal. Tired and full, yet content, we headed back to the hotel to spend the remaining hours of daylight lounging by the hotel pool. Ah, the ways of a leisurely vacation.

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As the sun set, so did our energy. Our early three o’clock rise was catching up with us. We said our farewells to the family and headed back to our hotel and our tropically neon lit bedspread. No matter how bright the colors of the gaudy décor, once our heads were resting upon our ornate pillowcases we immediately drifted off to sleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore below. In the dark, I could almost just pretend I was staying at the Four Seasons. Almost.

Posted by Jennylynn 17:21 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Why I Fly

Hawaiian Adventures: Day One

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I am a nervous flier. I just pretend to be brave as air travel seems to be a necessary evil. In truth, I have gotten a bit better. There was that time tears streamed down my face and I nearly squeezed my friend’s fingers off as we departed Oahu. Not exactly the highlight of my travels, but hey I’m not ashamed to admit it. My heart still races at every irregular noise or bump during the flight, but at least now I only grab for my travel companion during moderate turbulence. What can I say? I like my feet on solid ground.

So it was with regular nervousness and excitement that I boarded an Alaska Airlines flight to Maui last week. No matter how many dozens of planes I have boarded I always check the seat pocket, read the safety instructions, check that my life vest is actually under my seat, count the rows between my seat and the nearest exit, and then strap that seat belt around my waist as though I were taking off in a NASA space shuttle (the less circulation the better). Take off is the worst. I try to preoccupy my mind with some kind of crossword puzzle or gossip magazine. I just need to get through the first 15 minutes and then I finally relax into a semi calm state.

Landing doesn’t freak me out. I guess the anticipation of finally getting back on land negates any fear of flying I may possess. That is until I arrived in Maui last week.

It was such a glorious sight to see land after nearly six hours of clouds and water. As we descended over the island I could almost smell the salt infused breezes. I watched as waves rolled ashore and trucks plowed through the fertile farmland. We made a grand sweeping circle over the island before lining up with the runaway. As we steadily made our way toward the airport, I kept glancing at the ocean ahead of us. Was it just me or were we coming in really high and fast? We were totally going to crash into the ocean! I nervously glanced around to see my fellow passengers happily staring out the windows. Ok, so maybe I was just paranoid. I quickly looked back out my window and noticed that we were just feet above the pavement. I let my nerves wash away in anticipation of the halting brakes. But wait. What? The plane seemed to jump sideways and suddenly we were pushed back into our seats as the engines pushed us forward and up into the air. Instead of feeling panic and fear as one would expect, I felt serenely calm (great – isn’t that what happens right before death?!). We were taking off again over the ocean. Suddenly the fear flooded me. Minutes later the captain chuckled over the intercom, “Ah, Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s try that again, shall we?” Umm. Yes. Inside I was screaming, “Get me back on the ground!” A kind old gentlemen next to me happened to be a pilot. Apparently my nerves were not pronounced enough as he gently told me, “That’s, like, the most dangerous thing a commercial airline pilot can do.” Perfect. Apparently our pilot was on a suicide mission.

We circled the island once more. This time the pilot gave himself plenty of time and room to land. I just wanted off the damn plane and I wanted to get away from the “sympathetic” old man next to me. I squeezed my eyes shut (no tears this time!) and eventually I felt the familiar feeling of solid ground beneath the plane. Suddenly all around me passengers erupted in applause. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who feared for my life. A brief announcement later and we discovered that a combination of strong wind gusts and a short runway caused the touch and go landing. I didn’t care what caused it, I just wanted to get to the beach and forget all about my fear of flying for several days (this fear would be renewed on our tiny 50 person prop plane to Kauai just days later).

Finally back on the ground we made a mad dash to get our rental car, met up with my parents who were already dark skinned from a week on the island, and then went back to the airport to meet up with Dan’s parent and my sisters as they arrived on a separate flight. In the next few days 25 of our closest friends and family would arrive to celebrate our renewal of vows.

More than anything I was most excited to share the beauty of Maui, Hawaii with my sisters and Dan’s parents. My sisters, Leah and Brianna, and Dan’s parents are practically travel virgins having each only been outside of Washington for brief trips to Disneyland or Oregon. I was convinced that Maui would open their eyes to a world outside of the mundane routine of work, school, and chores.

I knew I succeeded the moment my sisters saw the beach in front of our hotel. They frolicked through the sand, danced in the waves, and grinned from ear to ear. The joy of that moment made every horrible, fear wrenching second on that cursed plane worth it. I was reminded of why I continue to fly, despite my deep rooted fear. We spent the remainder of our first day happily floating in the pool as hula dancers and ukulele players serenaded us under the setting sun.

True travel is uncomfortable, sleep deprived, stressful, and fear inducing. Yet, despite all these things, travel is eye opening, engaging, and captivating. Travel brings us closer to new cultures and people; it strengthens our world views, and breaks down barriers. Yes, I dread every plane I board, but I do it because the benefit far outweighs my discomfort.
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Posted by Jennylynn 00:10 Archived in USA Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Love and Luaus

While Dan and I are away for ten days on the beautiful islands of Maui and Kauai, things may be quiet on the blog front. Do not be alarmed. I will return! As we renew our wedding vows in the company of our close friends and family – I thought it best to take a break from all things computer related to truly focus on those that matter most to me!

In the meantime...a walk down memory lane seems appropriate...

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So how did Dan and I meet? Do you really want to know? Ok, the truth is about to be revealed…

Four years ago Dan sent me a friend request on MySpace. Yes. That’s pretty much the end of the story. Well, ok, I had to accept his friend request first, but not without a little investigation. I browsed his profile and was impressed with what I saw, he was handsome, intelligent, and driven, and it seemed too good to be true. I almost denied the request; I mean this could have been a potential stalker! But apparently any rationality I had all when out the window when I sent him a reply and started jabbering away about all our shared interests. Within minutes we were sending emails back and forth all day every day. Weeks went by with me frantically glued to my laptop waiting for his latest response (Obsessed, maybe?). Eventually he gave me his phone number and we progressed into the stage involving hour long phone conversationgs. It didn’t take long after that before we agreed to meet.

Our first date was unlike any other first date – I mean we were already practically dating and we had never even met in person! We went to this martini bar in Bellingham where I proceeded to get him drunk (and the guy doesn’t even drink – even to this day I have never been able to get him to take another sip of anything alcoholic!). He claims it was due to the nerves, but I think he was just trying to impress me with his palate for the dirty school girl martini.

Pretty much the rest is history. After that one date we were inseparable. I was intrigued by the fact that Dan had never travelled and I was determined to change that. Several months into dating, I put our relationship to the ultimate test: the road trip. Thousands of miles in, I realized we had gone five days without once turning on the radio. Our silence was content and our conversations many, this was great news and I concluded that our relationship could withstand anything. Following our first road trip together through the red rocks of Utah, the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, and Redwood National Park, we made several more road trips. The Rocky Mountains, Vegas, Disneyland, and Yosemite – these were all highlights of our many miles on the road together. Eventually we graduated to flying and made trips to Colorado, New York, Mexico, Alaska, Europe, and Egypt. Dan is officially my favorite travel companion, and I think I can safely say that he has caught the travel bug.

When travelling through Europe last summer, Dan proposed. It was a starry night in Paris and the Eiffel Tower glittered in a dazzling display of lights. Sitting at the foot of the Trocadero, Dan knelt down and popped the question I had been waiting to hear all summer (a girl just knows when these things are going to happen!). He didn’t have a ring. Being tied at the hip all summer left him with little opportunity to do any potential jewelry shopping, but improvise he did. I knew something was fishy as we sat admiring the city and he kept fiddling with his coat, not to mention, I could practically feel his rapid heartbeat through the stone steps. With a little ingenuity he removed the zipper pull from his jacket and tied it into a ring just minutes before proposing. Truth be told, he completely gave himself away, but in those moments I couldn’t have been more elated. Eventually we went and picked out a ring, but in the meantime I continued to wear the nylon string like it was five carat diamond.

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This past April we got tired of waiting for the right opportunity to plan a destination wedding and in a period of several weeks we scheduled a court house wedding and casual reception for our family and friends. The day turned out perfect as we celebrated the night away with those we love.
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Now we get the opportunity to share our vows again – this time with all our closest family and friends on the beach in Maui. We have planned a simple, fun ceremony, followed by a sunset barbeque on the beach. My Aunt is officiating and my Dad will accompany on the ukulele - things could get crazy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to luaus, hulu skirts, mai tais, and the love of my life – Dan. I can’t wait to spend every day for the rest of my life with you! I look forward to our next adventure and to many years of discovering the world together!

  • To see more photos visit my video tribute here!

Posted by Jennylynn 13:19 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Touring Northwest Trek

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As a nanny, I work with a lot of kids and families. Out of the literally hundreds of people I have worked for, there are only a small handful of families whom I still maintain contact with, but there is one family in particular who totally steals the show.

With seven kids in this family, there is a lot of personality in one room at any given time. They are rowdy, highly intelligent, comedic masters, and stunningly beautiful. They will probably grow up to be doctors or lawyers, start their own companies, and star in their own TV shows. They are simply brilliant and I love them all to pieces. Unfortunately, they now live in Calgary, Alberta and our time together is limited. So when Labor Day weekend rolled around I offered to host their two oldest daughters for a jam packed weekend of Seattle exploration. Between zoos, aquariums, museums, underground tours and restaurants, I don’t think we slept a wink.

The highlight of the weekend had to be our trip to Eatonville, Washington, just an hour outside of Seattle, to visit Northwest Trek. I’m not generally a fan of zoos. I know they provide a great benefit to researchers and help promote conservation education, but at the same time, I can’t help feeling saddened by the animals pacing their cages. Northwest Trek was unlike any zoo I have ever visited.

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The premise of Northwest Trek is to provide a place where people can observe native animals in their natural habitats. Immediately upon stepping foot into the park it is apparent that this is not a typical zoo. The lack of flashy stands selling cotton candy or stuffed animals leave the visitor free to wander through the woods upon dirt and gravel paths. As you stroll through the forest you may slowly find yourself peaking in on the habitat of say, a mountain lion. The only animals who appear to be within “cages” are the smaller forest animals such as skunks, beavers, and badgers –but this is only to allow for easier viewing, and the cages themselves are large and natural looking.

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When we first arrived we had about an hour to explore the carnivorous exhibits – which included wolves, coyotes, bears, and wild cats, before we boarded our tram to explore the remainder of the park. The girls thought it quite humorous that we were told to explore the predators on our own and then board the tram to view the hooved animals. Obviously the predators were within enclosures – but the staff made it sound as if we would be frolicking with the cuddly grizzlies before boarding the safety of the tram to observe the terrifying mountain goats.

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The deer, goats, bison, and elk are all kept upon miles of sprawling forest and prairie, so the tour would allow us to get up close and personal. As we took our seats on the tram, the onboard naturalist kept a running commentary of the sights we were about to see. I was skeptical of how many animals we would actually spot, but we were literally just several minutes into our ride when a herd of elk came strolling up to the tram. The one hour tour continued just as it started, every few minutes we would proceed several hundred feet and find ourselves greeted by another critter.
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As our tour ended the girls and I were ready to make a final pass through the predator exhibits before making our way home. Walking under the lush green canopy, we enjoyed the last few moments of quiet solitude and peacefulness, before heading back to the city. The next day we made a trip the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, where the flashy colors, packed exhibits, and cramped cages made my stomach knot. It was all too much to handle and I found myself wishing I was back at Northwest Trek.

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Posted by Jennylynn 08:18 Archived in USA Tagged animal Comments (0)

Sand and Saltwater in Sandwich, Cape Cod

Photo Friday!

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With only two days and one night in Cape Cod where better to stay than a little town called Sandwich. Why did we chose Sandwich out of the literally dozens of beautiful coastal towns? Well, let's just say the price was right. For just $50 a night we cozied up in this quaint cabin in the woods and fell asleep to the sounds of crickets lulling in the grass.

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Sandwich also had great beaches, parks, and this amazing little shop that sold muffins the size of basketballs, so really, I had nothing to complain about.

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We found a rickety boardwalk that led us out to the sea.

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The boards were inscribed with notes to loved ones.

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We couldn't help but stop for a few glamour shots of course.

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We stopped in the visitors center to learn about the canal the runs through Cape Cod, which when completed in 1940 was the widest canal in the world.

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Before departing we stuck our feet in the chilly water and dusted them in the salt infused sand.

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Oh Cape Cod, how I wish I was back!

Posted by Jennylynn 06:54 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (2)

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