Category Archives: Travel

Our (mis)adventures.

Coasting

We live in a beautiful part of the country, but we tend to be stay within a 10 mile radius from our house and not get out and explore much.

No more.

On our way to Lummi Island for Thanksgiving, we made the decision to start taking more little weekend trips — shooting for once a month to someplace we hadn’t been or wanted to explore more of.

So this was our inaugural trip of 2015, and we decided to head out to Kalaloch Lodge out on the coast of Washington.

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Coloring with a view of the Space Needle

After packing up Friday morning, we started the weekend off at one of our favorite breakfast spots at CJ’s Eatery in downtown Seattle. Next was a short stop at Seattle Children’s for Gabriel’s monthly check-up, and then we headed out.

We arrived just after “sunset” on Friday evening, but since it was raining heavily, sunset didn’t really matter – it was just dark. Our two bedroom suite was perfect – Gabriel stayed in one bedroom in his pack & play, Elise slept on the futon, and Katie and I had a room with a peek-a-boo view of the ocean. It had no Internet and no TV in order to help disconnect – but came with a wood burning fireplace instead.

View from our balcony

The view from our balcony in the morning.

We had a nice little dinner at the lodge, put Gabriel down for bed, and the three of us watched Tangled on the laptop until crashing that evening.

"Sometimes Mommy and Daddy just put me places while they do other things!"

“Sometimes Mommy and Daddy just put me places while they do other things!”

The next morning, we had breakfast back at the lodge (where the restaurant manager remembered both Elise & Gabriel’s names from the night before!) before packing up and hitting the beach.

Counting the fish on the wall

Counting the fish on the wall

When you’re three, nothing is better than the beach, even if it’s a little bit rainy.

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View from the top of the “cliff” where the lodge sits.

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Elise’s favorite game was running down the beach towards the water, waiting for a wave to come in, and running away from it as fast as she could.

Running from the waves

A video posted by todd (@toadgee) on

The trip back we had two kiddos that conked out… some more comfortably than others.

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On Bainbridge Island, we caught the ferry back to Seattle.

Somebody was pretty happy waiting in the queue to get onto the ferry

Somebody was pretty happy waiting in the queue to get onto the ferry

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Once in the city, we drove down to the stadium to get the necessary preparations for Super Bowl Sunday! E got a new hat, while I got a jersey. Katie left empty handed — which is sad since she was the only one we really wanted to get a jersey for.

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It was a quick trip, since we had to be back for church on Sunday, but we all had a blast and are looking forward to next month!

Sunseekers

We jetted off on a family vacation to Phoenix last week. I guess we can call it our Spring Break 2014 trip since technically Elise was on break—from her intense 1 morning per week of schooling. 🙂

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After a necessary stop at In&Out Burger, we checked into our condo and then over to see our Arizona cousins! It’s not a stretch to say that hanging out with Lily was probably Elise’s favorite part of the whole trip.

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We met Ryan, Lindsay and the kids the next day at the railroad park and enjoyed some more cousin time. And trains! Super fun, no surprise that Elise had a blast.

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New bffs. 🙂

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We also got to be a part of a family bbq at Uncle Gene & Aunt Barb’s. Sadly, I didn’t get any pics before it got dark out, but we were able to see G&B a few more times during our week there. It was great to intermingle our vacation time with catching up with family.

And thanks to Gene & Barb and Ryan & Lindsay for generously offering their babysitting services, Todd & I enjoyed quiet date nights TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW! What a special treat for us, plus Elise got to have fun time with all of them without her uncool mom & dad present.

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Aside from all that, we basically kept things low key and enjoyed morning walks to get coffee, bubble baths, playing in the yard outside our condo, shopping, a return trip to the train park, swimming in the pool all by ourselves, and just soaking up the warm Arizona sunshine. Our delicate Seattle skin severely needed some vitamin D.

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Big smiles and a very successful vacation with a toddler. Maybe it’s because Elise has been on her fair share of flights or the fact that Todd was along too, but I felt like this was one of our most enjoyable trips ever. Elise kept saying how she liked Phoenix, so I get the feeling we’ll be making more trips back!

On the beach.

When we were in Oahu a couple years ago, we spent two days on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, so my impression of the island was that it was a busy, crowded, way too touristy place. While I’m glad we got to see Pearl Harbor and hike Diamond Head, I prefer the more quiet & laid back kind of Hawaii. But somehow, Todd convinced me that THE North Shore was much different, so we decided to end our trip there. (For the record, he was right)

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I was in charge of finding our accommodations, and since we didn’t stay right on the beach in Kaua’i, that was my only requirement for Oahu.

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Bingo!

It was actually a basement apartment of a huge house, and the owners were in Greece so we had the yard & beach all to ourselves (except for some tiny lizards & crabs). Bonus was that it had a kitchen, laundry, and snorkel gear/boogie boards too.

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It was perfect for listening to the crashing waves and watching sunsets.

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I think our only tourist activity was visiting the Dole Plantation in the middle of the island where we rode the Pineapple Express train, played in the giant pineapple maze, and enjoyed a lunch of chili cheese fries and mmm, Dole Whip.

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I’d say it was worth the visit, but we definitely wouldn’t pay to see the botanical garden again (unless you’re big into flowers—we are not).

We kept Elise involved in our trip and sent her a video everyday while we were out doing something fun, but even with all the beaches, sea turtles, and shave ice videos we sent her, I think the choo choo train video was her favorite of all. And you know we just had to buy her a miniature Dole train of her own. Modes of transportation are the way to that girl’s heart.

Kaua’i

I first fell in love with the island of Kaua’i back in 2011 when we stayed on the eastern shore, in Kapaa. One of my favorite things we did on that trip was rent bikes for the week, and most every day I would take me & my pregnant belly for a nice coastal ride.

This time though, we only spent a few hours in Kapaa on our way to the north shore, but I requested that we at least do 2 things while we were there.

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Bikes + shave ice!

I’ve tried many different shave ice places on the Hawaiian islands, but I have to say that the best place I’ve found is in Kapaa. {Sounds weird, but the sweetened condensed milk on top is a must!}

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We visited the beach where Todd had lost his wedding ring last time {sniff.} and then bid a fond farewell to Kapaa and drove on up to our home for the next two nights on the north shore.

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Todd found us a great place with a wonderful ocean view and a front row seat to gorgeous sunsets. There was also a small secluded beach only to be reached by a hike down the cliff—we’ve found those are the best kind of beaches.

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We hadn’t really gotten to see much of the north shore on our prior trip to Kaua’i, so we spent some good time exploring the Haena/Hanalei/Princeville area.

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Blues and greens of every shade imaginable. Kaua’i is just so beautiful and the entire island feels like a small town to me, but the north shore is especially lush and cozy. I think I may have found my new favorite place on Earth {uhjust kidding, Switzerland}.

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We didn’t really go into this trip with much of an itinerary—other than where we were staying—’cause we’re carefree like that {or, more like I’m type B and lazy like that and Todd just puts up with it}, but one place we for sure wanted to check out was ‘Secret Beach’. Not really so secret, but it was probably my absolute favorite part of our entire trip {minus the ah-maz-ing goat cheese quiche we had in Kapaa that my mind still thinks of everyday}.

Anyways, Secret Beach. Another one of those hidden gems you hike to. And, by hike, I mean that it was doable in flip-flops if you’re careful— because it can be slippery. And barefooted on the way up. So not hike like you would in the Alps. But hike like you would down a muddy/rocky/leafy cliff to get to a beach.

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Sidenote: Did you know that there are ZERO, ZILCH, NADA, NO snakes on the Hawaiian Islands? Me + snakes is panic attack inducing, so this is probably one of the top 5 reasons why I love Hawaii. And give no second thought to walking around in the rainforest barefoot.

Shhhhh…..Secret Beach.

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We didn’t really go there prepared {obviously, if you want a structured vacation, don’t come with us}, so we’d left our swimsuits at the condo and played a fun little game we named ‘Retreat Race’. When the wave retreated back to the ocean, we’d run down to see who could make it the farthest before the next wave attacked {or we chickened out}.

Yes, we’re 10 years old, in case you’re wondering.

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I really wish I had a video to document our game, but perhaps it’s best not to see us squealing like little girls.

Funny thing about the ocean is, it is powerful and those waves like to surprise you. Todd and I both lost the game when we got completely blindsided by a rogue wave that blended us up and thankfully spit us back out. Good news was that no wedding rings were lost {I remember clenching my fist so hard as I tumbled underwater}, we had emptied our pockets of valuables beforehand, and nobody there cared if you stripped down and ran around in your undergarments and kept squealing some more.

So I leave you with this gem of the aftermath. What you can’t see is the 10 pounds of sand that stayed in my hair all week. It’s like I got a free facial from Mother Nature.

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You’re welcome for that.

And mahalo, Kaua’i. You hold an even deeper place in my heart now.

Vacation Time

Be honest.

If you’re a parent, you know that it is not a vacation—no matter where you go—if there are kids along. That is called a family trip. Well, Todd and I recently got to go on a vacation to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. All possible thanks to all of our parents, who graciously took care of Elise for 9 days so that we could get some alone time. {I remember when we were expecting, a wise woman at church told me to make sure to set aside alone time every year away from the kid. Solid gold advice, Judy.}

Where else would we go, but to one of our favorite places on earth? Mmmmm, Hawaii.

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I think we started planning this year’s trip to Hawaii while we were on last year’s trip in Hawaii. And while it’s always difficult to narrow down where exactly we want to go, we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before. Okay, we’d been to both Kaua’i and Oahu two years ago, but wanted to go back and explore different areas. Plus, I’m in love with Kaua’i, so I vote for that island every time.

Let me break it down for ya with some pretty pictures….

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We stayed the first two nights at a little bed & breakfast in Poipu, on the south shore on Kaua’i.

The first night we were there, I slept 11 hours {minus the rooster waking me briefly at sunrise} and woke up to someone else making me local coffee & delicious breakfast. The b&b owners told us about a hike to a hidden cave, so we made that our adventure for the day.

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The hike {Mahaulepu Trail} followed the beautiful coast and we even saw a monk seal playing near the cliff. Check that off my list of animals to see in Hawaii:

  • Seal
  • Turtles
  • No Sharks whatsoever


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We finally made it to the secret cave, which opened up to a collapsed sinkhole about the size of a small baseball field and the temperature of a warm oven. After cooling off at the beach, we hiked back to enjoy a well deserved happy hour.

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The next day, we stopped to see the Spouting Horn blowhole and revisited Kauai Coffee {largest coffee farm in the U.S.!} before moseying our way around the island for the rest of our Kaua’i stay.

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