Friday, November 28, 2014

Our Stay in Pahoa

After visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Graham and I drove to Pahoa to check into our rental on Kehena Beach. We encountered the only traffic of the trip on the drive along Highway 130. (It became clear how the entire town could be cut off from the rest of the island if the lava flowed over it.)

Our beach rental was the Whale House, which is just across the street from the ocean. It was a one-bedroom cottage on the same property as two other small cottages. 

A banana tree grew outside our door.

We ate lunch on the patio before making our way to the water. 

We took the opportunity to throw our wedding leis into the ocean that day. We watched them sway on the water before disappearing. 

Later, we went down to the beach, promptly discovering that it is a nude beach. We were OK with that, but we were also aware of how much we stood out. We sat on a rock and watched the waves and the locals' interactions with each other. At one point a man greeted a boat tour, which had stopped in front of the beach, by turning around, bending over, putting his hands on his knees, and showing them his bare ass.

We also witnessed moments of camaraderie. An older man started to get swept away by the strong surf, and two younger men dove into the water to help him. Graham complimented one of them on their efforts; he acknowledged us with a look but said nothing. 

I won't lie, I felt uncomfortable being one of the few people in clothing among the locals. 

Later, we drove to the Wednesday night farmers market. This is probably the biggest crowd we were a part of at any time on the Big Island. It was difficult to choose what to eat — everything looked so appetizing. I opted for veggie tacos made from non-GMO, locally grown veggies. 

We also bought pesto and spinach pizza from a food truck, and I paired that with lemonade. 

Among the goodies for sale were locally made soaps, jewelry, artwork, clothing and incense. We learned from some people we met that Wednesday nights were when the entire town gathered. Someone even called it his date night with his partner. A few people we spoke with said they were actually new to the Big Island and that they loved it there. Graham said a few times that he felt at home among the crowd. 

It was an enlightening experience to be in a setting where you stand out because it's clear you are not from the area. I see it as a positive and important experience. It's why I want to travel more; to feel uncomfortable so I can learn more about myself.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for friends and family, our dogs, yoga, running, my health and our adventures. What about you?

Photo by Jana Morgan Photography.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gifts that Give Back: My Favorites from TOMS

My goal this holiday season is to give more thoughtful gifts. If I can help someone in need while doing it, that's even better.

TOMS offers the opportunity to do just that.

Did you know TOMS sells coffee? And TOMS will give one week of clean water to a person in need with every bag of coffee you purchase. I'm thinking a few of my loved ones will get some this year. The Thankful Blend is shown below.

TOMS coffee

I might just get myself some slippers after the holiday. Don't they look cozy? Comfortable, warm slippers and helping others? Win-win!

I'm also loving this Chevron Hippy Bag that was hand-stamped by artists in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Lastly, these vegan shoes are part of TOMS' partnership with the Clinton Foundation and Wildlife Conservation Society. They help support African elephants that are being killed by poachers for their ivory tusks, according to the TOMS website. And they're adorable!

*** I was in no way compensated for this post. I just think these products would make great gifts!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gift Ideas for Yogis

Looking for gifts for the yogi in your life? Here are four products that'd make great presents individually or together.

** Earth Therapeutics Anti-Stress Pillow Mist ($7.99): This lavender, chamomile and citrus blend can help with relaxation. Just spray it on your pillow before bed for stress relief.

** To-Go Ware RePEaT Bamboo Utensil Set with Recycled PET Carrycase ($14.95): Reduce plastic waste with a reusable utensil set made of bamboo. The set is available in many colors.

** Prana Burnout Headband ($12-14): The headband comes in a variety of colors to help keep hair off your face in yoga class or out and about.

** Claro Treeless Ecopaper Banana Paper Notebook ($12.98): Jot down your thoughts in a journal made of discarded stalks of banana trees,which would otherwise have gone to waste.

Shop some of the products:

*Affiliate link included when available.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weekend in Sedona

Work has been crazy, so I haven't been able to share our experience camping in Sedona last weekend. A year ago we camped in the exact spot we went to Saturday, and it was just as lovely and relaxing this year.

With our dogs in tow, we set off for Forest Road 525 near Sedona. We stopped to get a Red Rocks Pass without even realizing that the America the Beautiful pass we received as a wedding gift from Perfectley Peared works for that land as well. Oh well, at least we know for next time.

Our dogs immediately scoped out the area and indulged in some play time. After we were all set up, we hiked to the top of a small hill with our chairs and set up a fire in a conveniently located fire pit.

Sedona and yoga just go together.

The lighting at sunset was gorgeous against the red rocks. I never get tired of seeing it.

The temperatures were in the 50s during the day, which didn't feel cold, until the winds suddenly hit in the middle of the night, dropping the temperatures into the 30s. We kept a Buddy Heater in the tent with us (with ventilation). At some point the wind pulled a stake out of the ground and part of the tent came blowing toward us and right to the heater, which promptly burned a hole in it. There was no fire, luckily, just a 6- by 6-inch hole. It was disappointing given that this was our first time using that tent.

The next morning we packed up and drove into town for Starbucks. We drove on the Boynton Canyon scenic route to get there.

 I would love to stop at a local coffee shop next time when we don't have the dogs, but at least there was this view to enjoy.  It is probably the best from any Starbucks I've been to.

We also stopped at the Airport Overlook.

 We returned home by that afternoon to relax before the workweek. I love our little adventures!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Waipio Valley Bed and Breakfast, Hawaii

Now that I've had time to think about it, I can safely say Waipio Valley was my favorite part of our Big Island trip. Graham and I stayed at Waipio Rim bed and breakfast, my new favorite place to stay. This place is worth every penny.

It all begins when you are greeted by Nancy and Steve, who are kind, laid-back hosts. Nancy brings welcome pupus (menu changes daily) and a bottle of wine is waiting for you in your room.

You won't share the building with any other guests or even the hosts, because the room is the upstairs unit of what looks like a study area. The view of the ocean and the valley below looks like a postcard. The yard is maintained nicely, too.

The room is tastefully decorated, and a lot of thought seems to have gone into the amenities. You can pretty much find anything you need for a nice cozy stay. Literature on local things to do and photos (for sale) are waiting on the desk. Need a flashlight or sunscreen for your hike down? It's there, along with many other helpful items.

We had a view of the ocean from our shower. It doesn't get better than that.

Graham and I decided to change and hike down to the Valley immediately after check-in. Steve gave us some advice: If you're going to ask for a ride back up from a local, be sure to ask at the bottom of the valley, because truck drivers won't want to stop on the way up. When we started the descent, we could see why. It's an exhausting hike up that steep incline —  25 percent grade.

I wished I had brought bug spray on the way down, because the insects really seemed to love me. But the views were the most incredible I've seen in Hawaii.

Waipio Valley's black sand beach is different from others we have been to in that it's fine sand vs. rocks or gravel. It felt so smooth below my feet. We walked to where the river meets the ocean and took it all in. Graham at one point stepped into a hole and was almost up to his waist in water, and we laughed as he made his way out. The surf was intense that cloudy day, but there were some brave souls in the water. The beach was never too crowded. We watched as the rain created waterfalls over the cliffs into the ocean. I wished we had more time to hike in the Valley and along the coast.

The hike back to the bed and breakfast was a workout. We sure earned our wine and pupus. The rest of the night was spent watching the sunset and the rain, relaxing, eating dinner and snacks, and listening to the sounds of the storm, frogs and birds. It rained all night, and although I am not used to so many sounds, the next morning I felt more rested than I have in a long time.

A tiny frog stopped to say hello.
It was still raining at breakfast time. We sipped coffee and tea as we waited for our food, which is served on the deck. Nancy made us beautifully presented banana-nut pancakes with homemade syrup. We had various fruit on the side. The plates, napkins — all of it was adorable.

From across the valley we could see newly formed waterfalls. Binoculars are kept in the room for your viewing pleasure.

We lounged and watched the rain, savoring every moment.

I was depressed to have to leave. I'm hoping to be able to make this a yearly trip to celebrate our anniversary. Who knows, maybe we won't live too far away.