Fresh Open Air…Port?

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I have been to a lot of airports in my life, but thus far, have never experienced any quite so open as the ones in Hawaii. 

Literally.


I haven’t really traveled much in the tropics, so perhaps all airports in the tropical places of the world are like this?  Certainly no airports that I’ve been in, not even the bane of my existence LAX, where you have an outdoor trek to get from terminal to terminal.  


I do confess that I didn’t notice it in Honolulu, other than to think that the walk from the gate to the outside was like 30 seconds, especially when compared to places like JFK, DFW, or even smaller airports like Tampa that tease you with views of the outside, but it takes a train ride and a walk to actually breathe fresh air.

Not true on the Big Island or Kauai, where there was plenty of fresh open air inside the airport terminals. It seemed that pretty much just the walkways, seating areas, and restaurants were covered and not much else. It was a little surreal (in a very good way) when we deplaned on the Big Island and could see palm trees and stars.


A very nice reminder that we were, in fact, no where near home.


PS–in case it wasn’t clear because I did write about other airports, ALLLLLLL of these pictures were of Hawaiian airports, like Kona, Hilo, and Lihue…but maybe not in that order. OBVIOUSLY if you saw yesterday’s post, you know that copious amounts of adult beverages were consumed and things start to go fuzzy. 

PPS–I know there are (and I have been to) multiple airports where you have to walk outside to transfer terminals, however, I never miss an opportunity to remind the world LAX is the bane of my existence.

Aloha!

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My Cup Runneth Over for Thirsty Thursday

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday!

Of course, we all had some amazing drinks while in Hawaii, however, I realized that I have already spoken about a number of them already–so I thought I would repost them for you again on this Thirsty Thursday.

Hipahipa!

Whiskey Wipeout from Duke’s

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Coconut Mojito from Duke’s

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Koloa Rum Company Mai Tai Shot

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The Best Piña Colada in my life–MY LIFE–from Huggo’s On The Rocks

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Nani Moon Meadery

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Planning To Get Lei’d

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A couple of months before we left for Hawaii, I got a call from BFF.  No hi.  No hello.  Just “do you want to get laid when we land in Honolulu.”  Silence.  Is this a trick question?  I mean, who doesn’t?!?! But I’m taking this trip with BFF, her hubby, and April, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was proposing here…

A big sigh from the Florida end of the phone “L-E-I, as in do you want a traditional Hawaiian greeting with a garland of flowers?”

Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiight…..I totally knew that.

Of course, we opted to get lei’d because a) very Hawaiian and b) it’s just fun to go around saying “I got lei’d in Hawaii.”  Although, I was a bit disappointed it was something that we had to plan, however, not as disappointed as I would have been to arrive in Hawaii and not be lei’d.  Of course there was an additional/upgrade fee to get lei’d, which then prompted a lot of “I paid to get lei’d in Hawaii” comments.

But I digress (as I often do).

Planning.  We all know how vital it is when traveling somewhere like Hawaii (or anywhere that your activities include something more than lounging on the beach drinking beer).  Except, not by me.  I don’t plan.  I throw out grandiose ideas here and there and offer a lot of opinions, but the real planning is usually done by someone else (and for that, I am exceptionally grateful!).  I’m quite capable of planning, but my planning tends to be the last-minute-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of planning, which apparently stresses out real planners and they take away your planning duties.  So unless we are in New York City or the Texas Hill Country or I am traveling alone, the planning job is almost never handed to me.

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But back to Hawaii.  If you’re going to Hawaii, you definitely want to plan out a good portion of your trip.  Not all of it–leave yourself time to get stuck in a beach bar while a hurricane-is-passing-nearby-but-not-hitting-the-island-afternoon-rainstorm.  At the very least pick out and schedule everything you want to see because if not, then it’s not going to happen.  I see it all the time when people visit New York City–they think “oh let’s just see where the day takes us” and then leave without seeing half of the things on their list.

In addition to all the amazing stuff there is to see, the main reason a well devised Hawaiian vacation plan is so important is because–in case you weren’t aware–the State of Hawaii is actually an archipelago of volcanic islands in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  And by middle, I mean there is no other land around it for miles.  Thousands of miles.  Just over two thousand to the mainland, to be exact.

I think the hardest thing to decide about Hawaii is how many and which islands you want to visit.

HINT: unless you have no time or money constraints, I would highly recommend against trying to see them all in one trip.

If you’re the type who likes to just set up shop in your hotel and use it as a base of operations, then just pick one island–there are no wrong options. If you’re the type of person who likes to see more and has no problem packing up and moving hotels every few days, I would recommend that you spend a minimum of 2-3 days per island.  If you are in this group, the thing to remember is that flying is pretty much your only option for island hopping (unless you want to rent a kayak and end up missing and on the news).  Actual flying time is not long, but it does come with all of the standard rigmarole of airports and security checkpoints and arriving at the airport at least an hour before your flight.  Basically, you have to block out a large chunk of time every time you want to island hop.  If you’re going the kayak/missing/news route, you might want to block out a larger chunk of time.

How and what did we pick?  Well, thank you for asking.  Since we were thinking that the trip would be 10-12 days, we decided to go to 2 islands, leaving the option open perhaps for a third.  A bit full-on, but we were all committed.  Since there were 4 of us, we each selected 2 islands and haggled from there.  Pretty much everyone agreed on Oahu.  It was the easiest choice since it has the capital and Pearl Harbor.  Plus it is where the majority of the flights from the mainland land–so it seemed ridiculous to leave the island without a bit of exploring and a trip to Pearl Harbor.

Then the haggling started.  Someone (ahem, I’m not sure who…) was very adamant about going to the Big Island to visit the coffee plantations in Kona.  Everyone else was split between going to Kauai or Maui or not really caring.  We finally haggled our way to visiting 3 islands and the negotiations quickly concluded.  Poor Maui was out (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) and our final island selections were:

Oahu, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), and Kauai

Let the adventure begin!

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Aloha!

 

 

100 Days of Blogging

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Hello and Happy Monday!

That was totally forced.  Not because I don’t mean it (I do), but because I’ve been sitting here for almost 30 minutes trying to figure out how to start this post.

You may have noticed in my post yesterday a new category: 100 Days of Blogging.  If you didn’t notice, don’t feel bad–I probably wouldn’t have noticed it either.  For those of you not familiar, it is pretty much as it sounds: posting for 100 days.  I thought it a nice way to force coax myself back into posting regularly.

As I was pondering whether I could keep up the pace of posting daily, the thing that had me pondering the most was what I would talk about.  Sure, I can talk your ear off about anything and I did complete the 100 Happy Days Challenge on ShezzaSpeak a few years ago, but would it keep you interested?  I mean, I could find funny things to post for Sunday Comics and the MWWC would provide several posts, but then it hit me (or rather, my coffee finally kicked in): a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to catch up with a friend from high school, whom I had not seen since I graduated but had recently reconnected with on Facebook.

As we recounted the last 20-something years, we realized we both shared a love of history and travel and in fact, we had both just visited Iceland.  As we were recounting our trips, it made me realize that it’s been awhile since I’ve shared any travel stories with you.  I haven’t even shared my Hawaii trip!  In fact, I can’t actually tell you the last trip I shared with you–perhaps The Fabulous Not Forty trips?  Wow…I have been a wanderlust-writing sloth!

So, here we go!  Check back daily–or follow me and have each post magically appear in your email or on your feed (whichever makes you happy!). And don’t worry, there won’t be a 100 posts on Hawaii…I mean, this is Day 2 and I did go to Iceland and Canada and a few other places as well 😉

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Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday #16

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you Thirsty Thursday, all the way from Hawaii (for some strange reason I have a lot of pictures from Hawaii that qualify for Thirsty Thursdays…)!!

This little baby is a coconut mojito.  It was the first drink I had in Hawaii.  Blended, not muddled and oh-so-tasty!   While some at the table said the aftertaste was a bit reminiscent of catnip, I thought the creaminess of the coconut with the lingering of mint gave it an extra layer of delicious texture.  Paired with a sinking sun and a beachside table at Duke’s in Waikiki, I was in heaven 🙂

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PS–after some pressing and a lot harassment, it was clarified that it tasted LIKE catnip smells, not that anyone at the table partakes in catnip…at least that he/she is willing to admit!

I Knew A Girl…

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Yesterday I lost a friend. We met through work and other mutual friends.  We didn’t hang out often, but when we did, things just clicked.  She was one of the kindest, most graceful people I have ever met.  She had been handed a very challenging lot in life and yet, always had a smile and kind word for everyone.  She truly embodied the spirit that life is what you make it and you should always choose happiness.

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As I listen to Ann tell stories about “the time when they…” I become wistful that I didn’t get to spend more time with her before she moved out of NYC.

I decided to share this with you today, not to make you sad but to make you stop and think.  Think about who is important in your life and when was the last time you reached out to them.  I’m the first to admit I’m awful about keeping in contact regularly.  I tend to hear Scarlet’s voice in my head saying that “after all, tomorrow is another day.”  But some times it is not and time runs out.

We live in a world where it is so easy to get distracted from juggling 739 things that we often misprioritize the important stuff in our lives.  But you can slow things down.  You can find a place where you choose happiness.  You can make the most out of each and every day.  I know it can be done because I knew a girl who did it.  And even though she is no longer with us, I know that her very-short life had a lot of fullness, a lot of love, and a lot of bursts of happiness.

Goodbye, Rebecca, thank you for teaching me to always, always choose happy.

Aloha Summer Vacation!

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Sorry for the impromptu month off!  It has been–to say the very least–a crazy summer.  Not that I’ve been traveling, but rather, I’ve been visited by travelers (yay!). Additionally, it has been chaotic at work and there are a plethora of other things not even worth mentioning.  Of course, I didn’t mean to be neglectful in my writing–I just had thoughts of I’ll do it tonight, tomorrow morning, this weekend, definitely for the monthly wine writing challenge…but no…nothing.

I was a little less of a slacker on shezzaspeak, mainly because I’ve just been posting pictures.  When I do write actual posts they tend to be much shorter than here or they feature the princess, of whom I can write about ad nauseam (for the masses, that is–I never get tired of it!).

The ironic thing is that while I haven’t been writing, I have actually been working a schedule of posts for when I am in Hawaii (THE one thing worth mentioning!).

That’s right, I said HAWAII!!!!!  By the way, if I were typing this on my phone I would have totally followed that statement with a slew of rainbow, palm tree, volcano, and surfing emoji.  Not that I surf, but well, I feel like it’s quintessential Hawaii.

This is a trip that has been several years in the making, as we were actually supposed to go last year, but something came up.  Then it was planned for this spring–and again, something came up.  Fearing the trip would never happen, we finally just picked some dates, booked hotels and planes, and viola: HAWAII!!  We are now in the planning everything we want to see, eat, and do stage (which is what really is taking up the majority of my writing time…well, that and random Netflix marathons)!  The great part of this trip is that my friend worlds are converging, as I’m going with April, Christi, and Tracy.  Of course, this means that there won’t be separate trips to see them this year, but IT’S HAWAII (yes, you can expect me to yell that out at least 93 more times in this post!)!!

So in honor of our upcoming trip to HAWAII!, I found an article on Mental_Floss that I thought would be fun to share:

15 Things You Might Not Know About Hawaii

1. There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels.

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some Hawaiian words is called an ʻokina. It’s a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words seem to be spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you’re looking at two different words. For example, “moa” means “chicken,” while “moʻa” means “cooked.”

3. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island’s official name is Hawai’i.

4. The Big Island’s getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It’s been erupting for 30 years! Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest volcanoes, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

5. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that commercially grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

6. The Aloha State’s also good at growing… people. It’s got the highest life expectancy in the United States (81.3 years), despite the fact that…

7. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

8. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve lived in the state, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals.”

9. One Hawaiian: Thermion grallator, also known as the happy face spider for a great picture–go to the Mental Floss article!

10. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of white Americans (24.7 percent).

11. In Hawaii, no celebration’s complete without a lei. And the flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it’s impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it’s bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby’s neck.

12. The state gem isn’t a standard mineral. Black coral is technically an animal, but it’s often used to make jewelry.

13. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

14. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

15. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green.

Snakes are outlawed?  Hmmm….perhaps not just a vacation, but research for permanently relocating??  Ya’ll would come to visit, right? 😉

HAWAII!!!!!

Fabulous Not Forty Birthday Dinner #2

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What would a birthday trip be without a special birthday dinner?  Granted this one was a lot more low key than the first one.  It was equally as memorable–this time for the food–nor did I get drenched!

First stop: dinner! at a swanky seafood and steak house in St. Paul called Kincaid’s.

We started with Country Fried Calamari, which were (as one would imagine) battered and fried.  What made them unique was the addition of artichoke hearts.  I’m not a big fan of artichoke hearts, but when they’re deep fat fried and served with a garlic aioli, I am aaaaaallllllllllllll over that!

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Of course, we were nearly done before I even thought to take a picture (I’m so embarrassing to take out to eat these days!), so I tried for an artsy shot with my Chateau St. Jean cabernet sauvignon!

When the main course arrived, I grabbed a few quick shots of my surf & turf and April’s shellfish fettuccine.  Of course, I was way more focused on the food than on actually focusing the shot (as you can see)–but trust me, if you would have been smelling dinner, you would have been eager to get to it as well!

Everything was so delicious that stopping with enough room for dessert did not seem like an option.  Besides, who am I to waste delicious steak, shrimp, and au gratin potatoes?

After dinner we took a stroll through downtown St. Paul, headed for our second stop: The Ordway Centre for the Performing Arts, where we had tickets to see Nice Work If You Can Get It. It was a fun show, with lots of great singing-a-long-songs (don’t worry, I refrained from singing–much to everyone’s delight!).

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While a much more low key event than FNFBD#1, Birthday Dinner #2 was a great evening spent enjoying delicious food & wine, lots of laughs, and hanging with one of the coolest people I know–it doesn’t get much happier than that.

La Bella Vita

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Happy New Year!

I hope your holidays have been wonderful and bright and all that jazz.

I recently have been playing host to 4 friends from very different parts of the globe.  Now that they have all gone, stillness has quietly crept back into my house (aside from the yelling at the &%*I$(#^&^%$^ football game), which has allowed for some inner reflection of the craziness that was 2014.  I had some pretty spectacular moments; unfortunately they were not all happy spectacular moments, but a few gut-wrenching ones as well.

Don’t worry this isn’t going to be a sappy-Shez-has-had-too-much-champers-and-going-to-make-everyone-cry post.  First of all, I don’t do sappy very well and secondly, I need to get a move on because it’s halftime and I definitely don’t want to be writing/editing when the game comes on again, lest my laptop be accidentally thrown in a fit of screaming “my granny could run faster than that!”

Where was I?  Oh yes: I just wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers who support me and challenge me and make me laugh.  And an even bigger THANK YOU to my amazing family and friends for, well, everything.

I’ve had some very surreal moments this year.  Snorkeling with jelly fish, for example, or watching the Times Square ball drop and being covered in confetti or sitting on a deck in Minnesota, staring at a beautiful sunset looking out over Canada or standing next to my cousin while she solidified her life with a really great guy (although NO ONE tell him that because we’ll never hear the end of it!).

Not too long ago, I was having coffee with my friend Des, who remarked that her favorite thing about me was that it didn’t matter what crazy place she wanted to go or what crazy thing she wanted to do, I had a story about why it would be a great idea.

I realized at that very moment that I had been blessed with a very unique outlook on life that made it unpredictable, but oh-so-beautiful.  It was nothing like I ever imagined it would be when I was growing up smack dab in the middle of Texas and it certainly isn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I think–no, I know–that I have spent a lot of time in the past few years obsessing about the negatives and everything that has gone wrong, and so my goal for this year is to focus more on the positives and figure out a way to create even more beauty in my life….starting with reminding the Cowboys they are actually playing today and figuring out how to get them show up and win (what? surely you didn’t expect me to end on a sappy note?!?!).

Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and beautiful 2015!

xoxo,

Shez and the darling princess pupcicle

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Back on Track with Thirsty Thursdays!

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way). As such, I’ve decided rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind.

Where was I before interrupted by Thanksgiving and tryptophan-induced laziness (hey, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)? Oh yes–Key West!

It is only fitting I resume my Key West tales on a Thirsty Thursday, given the copious amounts of adult beverages consumed…

Here James & I pose with our brunch drinks. While the restaurant (more about it later!) no longer offered its Tableside Bloody Mary Cart, we were allowed to build our own Bloody Marys–well, TK and I, that is. James & Christi had piña coladas and mimoas respectively.

A tasty start to brunch, indeed!

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