Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maui Wedding: Getting Ready for the Big Day

I've been reliving our wedding day by looking through our photos. People are right when they say it all happens so fast. I'm glad I let myself feel all the emotions that came with the big day: stress, excitement, happiness, love, gratitude — all of it.

Maui wedding photos

After snorkeling, we went back to the hotel to get ready. Graham worked tirelessly to take care of everything that came up so I wouldn't stress out. He sent me over to my maid of honor's hotel room to get ready and asked her to order lunch for me. My sister, mom and nephews also helped out by going to the venue early to set up and deliver the leis.

As I waited for my hair and makeup appointment, my stress became excitement.

Maui wedding photos

My flowers were delivered just before the photographer arrived, but they weren't what I was expecting. I had chosen light pink and coral roses with white dendrobium orchids, but the light pink roses weren't available, according to my wedding coordinator. The florist instead used roses that were a little darker and more purple. I had a choice to make: I could let it ruin the moment, or I could just accept what couldn't changed at the last minute. The bouquet was beautiful as it was, so I decided to not make a fuss about it.

My bridesmaids tended to my every need, made me laugh and showered me with compliments. They are the best!

They helped me put on my dress.

And I slipped on my shoes.

I wore Flora by Gucci perfume, to match my new last name.

Meanwhile, Graham had gotten ready in another room.

The wedding day card I gave Graham. 
(I purchased Graham's card from Natty Michelle on Etsy.)

Graham looked so handsome in his Calvin Klein suit. 

The flowers did look nice with his suit, though.
Ready or not, it was time to head to Gannon's Restaurant in Wailea for our ceremony.

Wedding photos were taken by Jana Morgan Photography.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wedding Day Snorkeling in Maui

Our wedding day came and went much too quickly. I woke up after finally getting enough rest to find Graham was gone. He had woken up early to purchase pineapples for our wedding table and get me an iced Granita from Lava Java in Kihei. There was a beautifully written letter waiting for me on the bathroom counter. I couldn't believe the day had arrived!

This was actually the first time in a long time I was too nervous to finish my food.

He had also brought back a newspaper, because he knew it was important to me. And he had ordered room service — oatmeal with fruit and a breakfast wrap. His thoughtfulness knows no bounds.

We exchanged wedding gifts that morning. I gave him a card and a watch, and I played for him a video I made of our photos. He was so touched. The day was off to an emotional start, to say the least. His gift to me was my wedding jewelry: a single-pearl necklace and matching earrings. They were exactly what I wanted to wear.

There were some stressful moments after that as we tried to corral friends and family and get them to the beach for snorkeling. Graham is my rock when I start the spiral of anxiety. (Yet another reason I married him.)

Snorkel Bob's outfitted us with our snorkel gear and gave us recommendations for snorkeling in the area. Their suggestion to go to Maluaka Beach was spot on. The water was clear and calm and we saw turtles!

Graham's turtle selfie :)

Spending some time at the beach with our wedding guests was the perfect way to start the day's festivities. Before long it was time to start getting ready!

**** Note: My wedding trip/honeymoon recaps have been out of order. I've been writing about them as I get inspired or as I get my photos in order. I've been holding off on wedding updates because I don't have my photos back from the photographer yet. I'm hopeful those will come to us this week. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kayaking and Snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay

My favorite activity on the Big Island was a kayak tour of Kealakekua Bay. We chose Kona Boys as our tour operator, and we're so glad we did. When we arrived at their shop for our Midday Meander, as they call it, we were told we'd be the only two people on the tour that day. A private tour? Yay! We were outfitted with our snorkel gear, bought an underwater film camera and set off for the bay, where our tour guide was waiting for us.

It didn't take long to get on the water and start kayaking toward the monument. Our tour guide AJ told us he'd seen spinner dolphins that morning, so he was confident we'd see them. Along the way he shared the history of the bay, the surrounding cliffs and the Captain Cook Monument. He also told us about himself and his move to the Big Island. We picked his brain about life in Kona.

AJ was right — it didn't take long for me to spot the dolphins. There was an Ironman competitor training in the water near them; AJ told us the distance across the bay is the distance the athletes swim in the event, so it's a perfect training site. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been to be in the water with the dolphins.

Before we knew it we arrived at the landing site. AJ went ahead of us to show us where to paddle and land, and then the guys pulled the kayaks out of the water and set our stuff down. We walked the short distance to the monument and prepared to snorkel.

AJ swore by a certain spot that was quite a swim away, but because we are in decent shape he asked if we wanted him to lead us there. Um, yeah! The swim there was incredible; I've never seen so many fish. AJ said it was the farthest he has taken a tour before, and we appreciated that.

I worked up an appetite on the swim, so we headed back to the monument for some snacks. AJ had brought along pineapple, banana bread and guava juice. You take home a Kona Boys water bottle, too. There were only two other small tours at the monument, and they headed back before we did, so Graham and I enjoyed having the entire place to ourselves.

We decided we'd like to invest in a GoPro or underwater camera for our next snorkeling trip. It would have been nice to have one that day, but I'll never forget the incredible sealife I saw.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

That Amazing Sunset Yesterday

It's no secret I am a fan of sunsets. Yesterday's reminded me that Arizona can be a magical place. Lately I've been feeling unmotivated and kind of stuck. I'm hoping that by slowing getting back into running and taking more yoga classes I escape this funk. And it will help to focus on the things I have to be grateful for, like this view.

Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day. (Thanks to whoever said that quote.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

South Point, Hawaii

I daydreamed about cliff-jumping in Hawaii for months, but I didn't take the leap. It all sounded swell until I remembered the time I cliff-jumped in Sedona and injured myself. It felt as though I had broken my sternum and I was sore for almost a week.

The drop from Ka Lae (South Point) is 40 feet, or so I've read. Maybe someday I'll summon the courage, but on the day Graham and I visited I was content to just stare off toward Antarctica. (South Point is in fact the southernmost point in the United States.) I watched waves crash onto the rock walls in the distance as Graham contemplated a jump. A day earlier, our kayak tour guide had offered these sage words: "If the local boys aren't jumping, don't do it." We didn't see anyone swimming or jumping that day, so of course we heeded the warning. Although, the wind seemed almost strong enough to push me over the edge.

Several fisherman were set up around the cliffs.

To get there, take South Point Road for 12 miles off Mamalohoa Highway. It's a narrow road that takes you past windmills and ranch lands. In the same trip you can drive, get a ride or hike to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.

Our kayak tour guide also mentioned the blow hole he had jumped into. I can't imagine anyone doing this!

Have you been to South Point? Would you jump off?!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Green Sand Beach, Hawaii

We spent our recent stay at Leilani Bed and Breakfast planning our next adventure: getting to Papakōlea Green Sand Beach.

The literature provided by our B&B hosts mentioned the locals who offer rides in their trucks and SUVs. Why would you need a ride? Well, the road is rough. And it's not so much one road but a web of dirt trails. The locals know how to get there with the least amount of damage to their vehicles. Our B&B hostess suggested we follow the locals when they take someone on a ride. That was the plan originally, but when we arrived we immediately were stopped by a local. He told us our Escape wouldn't make it and that it would be $15 a person round trip for a ride. (I should mention that the other option is to hike the 2 miles to the beach.) A group of men waited and watched as tourists like us made their decision. I wasn't comfortable leaving the rental with all of our belongings on the side of a dirt road for either option. Would they be offended if we didn't take their offer of a ride and not look after our car? I didn't want to risk it, so we played the part of tourists that day. 

Our transportation was an SUV with air-conditioning, thank goodness. We shared the ride with a couple from Colorado. (Along the way we saw other tourists riding in the back of pickup trucks. They inhaled dust and held on for dear life.)

Our driver explained to us that a family controlled the business of arranging rides for tourists to the green sand beach. He was not part of the family but was allowed to join recently; it was only his third week offering rides. It took him about 20 minutes to get us there, and the four passengers agreed to stay for about half an hour to 45 minutes before heading back. This ended up being enough time because the winds were so strong that the waves were too intense for my taste. I just soaked in the sun and scenery.

It was worth it to us to pay the money for a ride to such a rare beach. A couple we met at our B&B followed our SUV back to the parking area after managing to find the beach on their own. They were generous enough to tip our driver $10 for helping them get back safely. It wouldn't hurt to tip the locals if you are going to follow them there or back.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Foodie Friday: Hawaii Vacation Eats

One of my favorite things to do on vacation? Pig out.

Our wedding and honeymoon trips were no exception.

Top left: Non-GMO veggie taco from a farmers market (Wednesday nights) in Kalapana, Hawaii. 
Top center: One of many juices.
Top right: Sushi Shiono in Kailua-Kona.
Left: Waialua soda in Lilikoi flavor and iced white mocha coffee at Rainbow Falls Cafe, Hilo, Hawaii.
Center: Veggie omelet and potatoes with homemade jam and toast at Chez Meme Baguette Bistro, Kihei, Maui.
Bottom: Wedding dinner at Gannon's, Wailea, Maui: Double fresh catch fish with garlic mashed potatoes and veggies.

Other memorable meals:

My last breakfast in Maui (above) was a uniquely presented veggie scramble at Kihei Caffe. The seating is outdoors, where you dine amid the roaming roosters and birds. (Don't feed them!) The place is cash only, and you order inside first and then find a seat. 

I paired that last meal with an iced Granita from Lava Java. I wish I could get one on the mainland!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Leilani Bed & Breakfast in Ocean View, Hawaii

Our 6-day Big Island adventure included a stay at Leilani Bed and Breakfast in Ocean View. Someone later described this area to me as the "middle of nowhere." The sleepy town seemed like an ideal place to set up a bed and breakfast: quiet, serene and with an amazing view.

We were mesmerized by the sunset as we drove there. Pictures (on my camera) couldn't quite capture the colors and the beauty. The sun looked huge! And the entire sky was orange and red. There seemed to be a mist around it, but I'm not sure what exactly I was seeing.

I remember commenting to Graham about how different the Big Island is compared with Maui and Oahu. It's another world. It doesn't pretend to be something it's not, and it doesn't bend over backward to please tourists, at least in some towns.

The hostess greeted us to give us a tour of the bed and breakfast and explain the house rules.

1. No smoking. 2. No food and drinks in the room. 3. Keep the shoes on the lanai.

She was nice enough to accommodate our request for a room with a private bathroom. (I didn't snap a photo of it, but you can find plenty on the B&B's website.)

The lanai was adorned with artwork (I believe it was by the hostess), as well as a table in the center where breakfast was to be set up. A reading area in the corner contained books, magazines and flyers about things to do on the Big Island. A fridge was meant to hold any of our food and drinks, and there was a (non-functioning) water fountain in another corner. The hallway has a map with pins marking where guests came from.

Graham and I sat in the lanai to enjoy our snack dinner and plan our next morning.

Breakfast is served at 8:30 or so, but Graham and I were up and about long before then. We sat on the lanai as he sipped his coffee and read about the green sand beach. Then we checked out the outdoor areas.

The entryway into the lanai.

The hosts noticed us (their living quarters are on the other side of the house and separated by a sliding glass door into their kitchen) and brought out breakfast a little earlier. We were ever so grateful! A couple from Brazil joined us for breakfast.

We told the hostess about our plans to see the green sand beach, and she told us about locals who offer rides for a fee. She suggested following their route if we didn't want to hitch a ride. (More on that in another post.) We appreciated her advice as we set off to the day's adventures.