Hawaii Part 3

Hawaii Part 3

Day 4

I forced Jenny up early AGAIN on Thursday to take a jungle expedition at Kualoa Ranch. This was where a variety of movies were filmed including Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jumanji, Kong: Skull Island, and more. The tour was a wonderful combination of Hawaiian culture and sets from iconic scenes. We saw locations from Jumanji, Skull Island, 50 First Dates, and Jurassic World. We even got to drive through the Indominus Rex exhibit! The only thing that could have made it better was if Chris Pratt showed up on his motorcycle (now that would be a sight). We took the truck up the mountain where we stopped to hike out to a scenic overlook. If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that Jenny and I are not the most prepared. Neither of us were anticipating a hike so our flip flops, slick from the downpour, were forced to carry us up to the top of the hill. We made it up without injury and got to experience the beautiful view of Kualoa Ranch!

When our tour finished, we were planning on going to one of the beaches that our tour guide pointed out to us the day before but it was pouring on that side of the island! So we stopped at the Byodo-in Temple and took a look around! It was well worth it to check out and admire everything there was to see!

We went back to Waikiki and hung out at the beach. After the sun set, we stopped back at the farmer’s market and bought excessive amounts of pastries and fried rice. The next morning, we got breakfast, gifts for everyone back home, and dropped the car back off before boarding our flight and heading home! It was a fantastic vacation and I am already eagerly awaiting the day when I can go back to Hawaii!

Overall

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Hawaii multiple times in my life! I first went to Hawaii in middle school and since then, I’ve been back to Maui and Kauai twice. Obviously Hawaii is beautiful regardless of where you are going but I’ve found that my favorite island that I have been so far has been Kauai. Kauai is everything that you think of when you hear “Hawaii”. The Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon, beautiful north shore (and its fantastic hike), and the sunny Poipu area make it in my opinion the most picturesque island. Kauai isn’t nearly as busy as Maui or Oahu so if you are looking for nightlife or shopping, it is certainly not the place for you. But if you are looking for incredible hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and fantastic beaches, it’s perfect!

Now I might gush about Kauai, but Maui and Oahu both offer incredible sights and attractions as well. Maui is the perfect place if you want to combine shopping with hanging on the beach and snorkeling. On our vacations, there is a 99% chance you can find me in the water (the other 1% chance is that I’m reading on the beach) so I love Maui because of it’s awesome snorkeling. But if Kauai had Maui’s snorkeling, I would never leave. Maui is a little more commercialized than Kauai and is not as lush and “Hawaii-like”. While you can (and should) do the Road to Hana, the island overall does not leave you with the overwhelming feeling that you have been dropped off in the middle of Jurassic Park like you do on Kauai.

Oahu has a little more parallel with Kauai in that the overall island seems more lush, but it is a bit difficult to determine due to the amount of people on the island. While Maui was relatively commercialized, Oahu (Honolulu particularly) seems like you are walking down the streets of California. It is a bit strange when you exit the break of high-rises to see a beautiful beach directly in front of you. While I personally would do Maui and Kauai again before Oahu, I do think it is something to see! Oahu has the shopping and nightlife that is missing from the other island! Hawaii is beautiful and a visit to any island will be a fantastic time!

Aloha,

Peyton

Hawaii Spring Break! The Intro

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Hawaii Part 2

Hawaii Part 2

Day 3

6am we were standing under a green umbrella waiting for a bus to take us to our catamaran. When the driver got there, we boarded the bus only to find out that I had grossly misinterpreted the voucher. Turns out Island Adventure + Snorkeling with Turtles did not mean it would be on a boat, even if the picture on the website showed a child snorkeling with a boat in the background. Instead, the bus took us around the island, stopping at more iconic (tourist) locations and giving us time to get off and look around (buy souvenirs). The tour was nice and allowed us to see places on the island that we would not have seen otherwise, but it was a bit bitter sweet since we did have the car and could have seen what we wanted to on our own time! I would recommend renting a car just because it allows for more freedom in what you can see and do! Tours can be awesome, but you are not on your schedule. Our bus driver was very friendly and gave us places away from the common tourist locations. If you’re ever in Oahu, consider going to Kailua Beach or Waimanalo Beach Park. We were not able to make it but they both looked beautiful and away from the mobs of tourist that you find in Honolulu!

We stopped on the Northshore shrimp stands and ate some delicious shrimp cocktails. It was a bit cold so while Jenny decided to go snorkeling, I read a book on the beach. She left an hour later having swam with the turtles and I left an hour later, having ditched the book to take a nap. (I promise that I do other things besides sleep and eat). We got back on the bus and made it to the place that I was probably more excited to see than I should be. The Dole Plantation! I can say now that if pineapples are not your thing, do not do it. Also, if tourist traps are also not your thing, maybe you should skip it too. I was glad we got the opportunity to go but I would not have chosen to go on my own! But I got an extra-large pineapple juice and walked through a pineapple shaped maze so I was content. From the Dole Plantation, we drove back to Waikiki.

After a day of driving around, we were lazy and tired so we grabbed Rainbow’s (a drive in restaurant) and took it to go. I would like to say we sat on a cliff and watched the sunset, but we did not. Au contraire, we returned to our Airbnb and watched Moana on my laptop. Sometimes you just need a nice cozy bed.

Peyton

Hawaii Spring Break! The Intro

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Hawaii Part 1

Hawaii Part 1

Day 1:

On day one, poor Jenny was shocked by the vacation mentality of the Mierau family. My family does not know a “lazy vacation”. Our “lazy vacations” consist of us waking up with the sun and going to bed at ten every night. So if you thought that our all-nighter was going to deter me, then you were wrong! I was ambitious, telling myself that I was going to get up at six, and go run to Diamond’s head where I would go on a two-mile hike and then wake Jenny up when I got back. I should have realized the futility of that idea but positive mind, positive life, right? After sleeping through my six am alarm, I was up at seven to force Jenny to go grocery shopping before we hit the beach.

Waikiki Beach was the perfect spot to people watch and Jenny and I spent our entire day doing just that! We got to the beach early to claim our spot and watch the waves of tour buses drop off eager tourists at the beach. If you are looking for a quiet beach to relax on, Waikiki is NOT for you! It’s not rowdy per say, just extremely busy. Our day was spent napping, reading, and chatting on the beach. After a while I began to get hangry, we stopped at Duke’s for some delicious hamburgers (I still don’t know if they were so good because I was starving or if the food was just delicious). After gorging myself on burgers and fries, I immediately found a warm spot on the beach, fell over and passed out for two hours. The tan lines I still sport attest to how deep of a sleeper I am.

When it got closer to sunset we walked further down the beach, got some smoothies and found a pier watch the sunset on. I will admit, I have never been at a loss for words when talking about sunsets and food (and really about anything else, I talk a lot) but sitting on a beach in Hawaii while sipping a smoothie is pretty much me in my happy place and I was for once at a loss for words.

Just when I thought our night could not get any better we found a farmer’s market on the way back and I ate even more food! We got some tapioca in coconut milk topped with an assortment of tropical fruit. Just thinking about it makes me drool a little. It was a great way to start a great trip!

Day 2

On the second day, I didn’t attempt to kid myself with the idea of early morning physical activity. Instead, I woke up and ate breakfast at a restaurant next to the beach. I would say that the views from the “premium locations” on Waikiki Beach are not as spectacular as they make them out to be and I would highly recommend just getting takeout from one of the stalls at the farmer’s market or a nearby mom and pop restaurant and take it to the beach! We learned that even if Cheeseburger in Paradise says they have a breakfast special, the food really is not that special.

I would like to say that I did something adventurous and daring after getting food but that would be a lie. I fell over on the beach again and took a nap. Jenny people watched for the both of us and when I woke up, we made our way down the beach towards the catamaran tour that we had booked. While we were in Hawaii, we bought a Go Oahu card. If you’re interested in seeing more of the tourist destination, I would strongly consider it! You can choose the number of days that you are there and pay a rate for unlimited visitation of forty attractions. We did not end up making it to all of the sites that I would have liked to see, but just one more excuse to come back right? We didn’t make it to Pearl Harbor, something I was really bummed out about because I love history and my great-great-uncle was killed on the USS Arizona. Although we did not get to see some pretty awe-inspiring places, we did get to take a catamaran tour along the shores of Honolulu and past Diamond’s Head. While we were on board, we saw some dolphins and some humpback whales that were breaching. It was a very nice boat ride and allowed us to see Oahu from a new perspective.

A friend of Jenny’s aunt recommended a restaurant, MonkeyPod, that she said was her and her husband’s favorite. When we got there, it was no surprise why. The restaurant was beautiful (and a little expensive so if you’re like us, go at happy hour) and had a live musician that was amazing! We both ordered pizzas before walking across the street to the beach. Hidden away (to deter commoners) is a small pedestrian path that you can take if you are not staying at the Disney resort or the Four Seasons that share the beach. The beach is called Ko Olina and is everything that you can expect a Hawaiian beach to be. Ko Olina is a small cove surrounded by white sand beaches. Lawn chairs adorn the beach and the sand is framed by meticulously groomed grass and shrubs.  Palm trees and hibiscus flowers are interspaced along the edges of the cove. Looking at the view, I thought to myself “what could be better than this?” Turns out if you add Dole whip (pineapple soft serve), it gets even better! So I ate my Dole whip, and then Jenny’s, while listening to some reggae. The sunset was spectacular and the night was perfect! It was yet another perfect ending to another perfect day.

Peyton

Hawaii Spring Break! The Intro

 

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Petrified Wood National Park

Petrified Wood National Park

Part 3: The Petrified Wood Forest is located smack dab in the middle of the Painted Desert in Northern Arizona. For those of you who do not know what Petrified Wood is I will link everything you need to know about it below!

The forest is located on Navajo and Apache land and the space is covered in fossilized trees. This is cooler than it sounds I promise. Honestly, for the longest time I did not even know trees could fossilize like this. They look a lot like really intricate rocks, I like to think a lot like granite, but it is not even close to actual rock. They are trees that are just millions of years old. The pieces range from pebble size to the sizes of trees like you would find in the mountains of Colorado. They are smooth to the touch and feel nothing like a living tree. All of the wood in the forest is untouched and has not been moved from its original resting place by any park officials.

There is a lot more within the Petrified Wood National Park than just fossilized trees, but also a large number of other fossils from prehistoric creatures that have all been discovered in the area. The history behind the whole area is mind boggling and I highly suggest going into the parks information locations to learn more about it, it is not boring like some of the other information centers I have wandered into.

The pieces within this desert that have remained untouched range in price from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and none of the wood in the national park is ever sold or moved from the location but protected by the park.

To find the forest you head on the same track as the Painted Desert seeing that one route turns into the next. This is not an activity to take up a whole day, but if you are in the area and have some time use your day doing both the Painted Desert and the Petrified Wood Forest, it is well worth learning about and seeing.

This was an awesome road trip, and I just wish I had more time to explore even more places, northern Arizona has not seen the last of me.

Xx

Gabi

What is Petrified Wood?

The Petrified Forest

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The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert

Part 2: I visited the Painted Desert on my way back from the Grand Canyon. This is one of the coolest natural things I have yet to see in my twenty-one years of life. The colors range from pink to black, the pink rocks having bands of lavender and beige running through them, and the black weaving through reds and blues that take on an almost volcanic look to them.

This is something you can drive through and it stretches for miles in Northern Arizona. There are a variety of stops to get out of the car and look at the different hill ranges that have so magically formed within the desert. To drive the whole length of The Painted Desert I would say was about one or two hours depending on how much time you spend getting out of the car.

This is a rarity, since it is national park but is viable for anyone since you can be in the car the whole time or hike around. There are a couple of legitimate hikes ranging from less than a mile to four miles I believe, so it still can appeal to my avid hikers that read the blog. To this day I do not believe I have seen anything like it. It is not comparable to any other of my blog locations we have discussed thus far, but I will let y’all know if that changes. I am going to include pictures below but just a sneak peak to inspire you to go check it out on your own!

Xx

Gabi

The Painted Desert

The Hats

Part One of the Arizona Road trip

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

I am going to do a three-part series this week. This was all one giant road trip that I took through Arizona in December, but I want to split it up so you can really read up on the places I talk about, if case you are interested in seeing them for yourself!

Part one: I had my first trip to the Grand Canyon! I know that seems wild since I have lived in Arizona for three years now, but sometimes I seem to find life scurrying away from me. I do want to go back again when it is warmer, but this was a super fun experience even though I froze my booty off.

We camped in the park campgrounds. Surprisingly there were more people there than I thought there would be for winter, but it was not nearly as crowded as it can normally get. The campgrounds were generic with a firepit provided. During the winter season when we were in attendance, the site only cost fifteen for the one night that we were there.

The wildlife was awesome! We saw elk, and even got up close and personal with them (safely). They were not even frightened in the slightest. Also, you could hear coyotes at night… and they were close. The cackling of a clan of coyotes celebrating a kill could be heard in the middle of the night, which I am not going to lie made me a little sad but also was a unique thing to hear.

It was cold, cold, cold, during the night, but the stars made all the layers worth it. I have never seen a night sky like that one before. Star gazing is one of my favorite things, so this was a treat for me to be able to see more of the galaxy then I could ever see in the city. I highly suggest anyone who has studied astronomy to go out to The Grand Canyon for some perfect viewing opportunities. It was an incredible first time of exploration, but this definitely was only a scratch on the surface. I cannot wait to come back and explore more and go into The Grand Canyon.

Which leads me to my announcement… I will be returning to The Grand Canyon in May to do Havasu Falls! I am so excited and if any of you have been would love your tips and expertise. Drop me a comment or send me an email to trade tips or if you have any or questions about my first trip to The Grand Canyon. Later this week I will post about my trip to The Painted Desert and The Petrified Forest.

 

Xx

Gabi

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Grand Canyon Info

Havasu FallsProcessed with VSCO with b1 preset

Sedona

Sedona

Okay, this is hands down my favorite place in Arizona. I have been living in the lovely desert now for three years and Sedona is by far the most beautiful place I have experienced, in the state.

As you already know due to a previous post I hiked Devil’s Bridge, which was a great hike, (I will link my review of that below) but we did a few other things besides that while there. Sedona is known for it’s spirituality and for these things called Vortexes. Vortexes are supposed to be center points in Sedona that swirl with energy (not something you can physically see, this confused me a little too don’t worry) and are said to bring with them healing and a strong sense of self-exploration. Many people report a sense of peace when visiting them as well. All of the Vortex locations in Sedona have the most beautiful views as well, so even if you are not a “believer” the view is well worth the visit anyways. There have been many reports that it also causes the feeling of your blood stirring and the sensation of being recharged and inspired.

Sedona is often referred to as a “healing heart” and the whole town is essentially known to be a vortex, but there are four specific sites that are considered the most intense in feeling. I will link a list of these locations below! All of these places are easily accessible to all age groups.

The town is very hippie and is all about auras and spirituality, if you are into this stuff, this place is for you! The place is swarming with mediums and all sorts of cool healing rocks. I purchased a salt lamp here and I am in love with it.

If you are not a believer in this kind of stuff my suggestion to you is to take everything and everyone’s words with a grain of salt. Just really focus on enjoying the natural beauty. There are plenty of hiking trails and rock stores to check out while in town. If you are a believer or even slightly intrigued by the concepts, let it take over your experience and really let in all that Sedona has to offer you.

This place has a beauty to it that is hard to compare to anything else, with similar colors to Zion in Utah, but terrain almost like the desert or Garden of the Gods in Colorado, it is just unparalleled. Everything is flawless and vibrant. The temperature in December is cool but not unbearable. I loved this trip and I plan on going again at some point in 2018!

XX

Gabi

Devil’s Bridge

Vortexes

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