Saturday, December 30, 2017

2018 Predictions

Here are my predictions for 2018...

  • We already have a trip booked to Vegas with both of our moms this year over Easter!  This is our first trip with both of our moms, and our first time in Vegas over the spring.  I'm hoping that we will FINALLY get to go to the Grand Canyon!  I'm thinking that this REALLY might be our last trip to Vegas (although I've been saying that for the past 5 years...)
  • We are considering going on a Royal Caribbean Cruise this year!!  We are thinking about going on the Oasis of the Seas or the Allure of the Seas.  We haven't decided yet!
  • I'm going to be taking a photoshop class this through the Cleveland Photographic Society this year.  I've ALWAYS wanted to learn more about photo shop, and I'm pumped to finally get to.
  • Same as 2017, I don't see Cody or I changing our jobs in 2018.  We are both pretty happy with where we are at.
  • Between Cody and I, we are going to be in 3 weddings this year!  We'll be going to Myrtle Beach for my friend Steph's wedding.
  • My bestie is going to have her first baby!  And I sure hope that I'm home for it (she's due the same time we are in Vegas).
  • We ARE hoping for a baby of our own this year!!  Ah!!  It feels so crazy to write that!  I'm not sure if this is a 2018 or a 2019 prediction, because we are only a couple months away from not having the baby in 2018.  I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens...
  • Hopefully I'll have a baby shower in 2018?  One can hope... I sure have liked looking at baby stuff while getting ready for Hannah's shower.  I predict that I'll have an entire spreadsheet of research on different baby things that we'd want to get when the time comes.
  • I'm also hoping to get two new camera lens in 2018.  One that has a range of 18mm-300mm and one that is a 50mm prime lens.
  • I also really hope that I can stick to a fitness program this year, and drop about 30 pounds... but I say that every year.  My hopes of running a 5K last year didn't turn out so good. I DID go out running several times though... so I guess there is that... progress.
  • As I'm looking around... trying to make more predictions... all I can think of is that I NEED to get our office room organized this year.  It has always been our "clutter" room.  When we don't have a place to put something, it comes in here... and right now... right after Christmas... you can imagine how this room looks.  So I guess now that I'm taking about organizing the house that's where my predictions end for next year.

2019...  Gee it's hard to imagine that far ahead!  It's crazy, because really... it's not THAT far away.  I hope that we have a baby by 2019, and that we're planning a trip to Florida and maybe somewhere local, like Michigan in the summer?  If not, I hope that we are planning a trip to Alaska or Europe or San Francisco!  

2017 in Review

2017 was a BIG traveling year for us!  We did SO many exciting things!  We also had a lot of friends/family have milestones in their lives too as far as getting married or having kids.  I have a list of high lights below, they aren't exactly in chronological order...  my process for writing these types blogs is looking through my pictures for the year, and then thinking back on things... so I kind of write about it as it comes back to me/fits in with something else that I'm writing about.

In 2017, I went to my first trip to Minnesota on a business trip to see 3M's headquarters.  Holy amazing!!!  It was so big, modern, and impressive!  Speaking of big and impressive... I also got to stop off at the Mall of America for the first time.  This mall is massive!  It is 4 stories high and has amusement park in the middle!!

Cody and I went on Carnival's brand new ship Vista in Feburary!  We also got to stay in one of their Havana rooms, and got private access to their Havana area. The Havana area is my most favorite area on any cruise ship that we've ever been!  We went to Grand Turk, Puerto Rico, St Kitts, and St Maarten on this cruise.

We went on a kayaking tour in the Grand Turk.

We got to go to Puerto Rico for the first time.

We went zip lining in St. Kitts

We went to St. Maarten's and got to watch the planes fly over the beach.

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went on the Norwegian Escape.  Yes this was our second cruise for the year.  :)   We went to Roatan, Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel on this trip.

We went zip lining twice this year, because we ended up going on a zip line and eco-tour in Roatan.

We fell in love with the giant pool on Norwegian's private island.  I think was one of our most fun days on the cruise.

I also joined the Cleveland Photographic Society this year, and I took their photography basics course.  It has been a dream of mine for years to get a good camera and then to take a class to learn how to use it, so I can cross this one off my bucket list.  I am so excited for my photography journey, and I can't wait to learn more in 2018.  This picture actually took 2nd place in my first photo competition that I entered.  :)

Cody was in Tony and Erica's wedding this year on 6/16/17.

Shawn and Katelynn had their baby, Suzie, on 3/20/17.

Hannah and Kyle found out that they are having a baby girl towards the end of March (maybe April?) 2018.  I can't wait to be an auntie again!!

Speaking of becoming an auntie again...  our niece, Amelia Patricia Charles, was born on 10/15/18.

Aaron and Jacqueline had their little boy, Jackson, juuuust barely in 2017 on 12/30/17.

Becky and Bobby got engaged this year.  They also let me take their engagement pictures, and they asked me to be in their wedding next year!!  

The Budweiser Clydesdales came to North Ridgeville this year, and my mom LOVES the Clydesdales.  So even though it was a crappy rainy day, we still went and got to take a picture with one of them.

This was also my first mother's day away from my momma.  We were in New York this year for Mother's Day and spent the day with Cody's family.

We were in Hancock then, because Cody's grandma, Patricia O'Boyle, died on May 5th, and we were able to go back to Hancock for her funeral.

Krista and the kids came out to visit us, and we were also able to take Kelsie and Davey to their first professional baseball game.

Cody and I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame for the first time with his mom and her boyfriend, Neil.

2017 was the year of my 10 year high school reunion!!  Holy crap!  I can't believe it's been 10 years already!!!  

Ahhh!!  Speaking of things that make me feel old... Sam graduated high school this year and started college at Kent State!

I took Christmas pictures for Shawn, Katelynn, and Suzie this year, and then I took what is probably my favorite picture of Cosmo ever!!  Look at my cute boy!!  Poor Cosmo has hurt paws this year, and we are working with the vet to try to get him fixed back up.

Cody and I went on our BIG trip to Maui this year!  We've been talking about this for a couple of years, and we absolutely loved our resort.  This was also the first time that either of us took 2 full weeks off from work since either one of us started working.  Visiting Maui was an item I was able to cross off my bucket list this year.  We did SO many fun things in Hawaii!

We went to the best luau in Maui!  This was Cody's first luau.

We went to the top of Haleakala to watch the sunrise.

We went on a stunning helicopter tour in Maui!  Another thing that I can cross of my bucket list.

Rappelling down a waterfall in Hawaii wasn't on my bucket list... but it should have been!  This is the most exciting/thrilling/scary/adrenaline rush thing that we've ever done.  I am SO excited that we decided to try this.

We went on a sunset dinner cruise and whale watching tour in Maui.

We also went on a snorkeling tour with our new full face snorkeling masks that Cody bought me for my birthday.

Yep!  It's true!  Cody some how got me to go back to Vegas with him this year.  We stopped their for a few days on the front end and back end of our Maui trip to break up the traveling/flights. We went to the Vegas Strong benefit concert this year.

We went back to Hancock this year over New Year's and got to meet our new little niece, Amelia, and got to spend a bit of time with the family.

We had what is probably going to be our best year of traveling EVER in 2017.  We are so blessed to be able to do and see so many amazing things.  We are also so excited for the people in our lives who have had great things happen to them in 2017 as well.  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hawaii Trip 2017

Ever since Cody and I bought our vacation club we have been wanting to go to Hawaii!  Well this year we finally turned that into a reality.  It is such a long flight to Hawaii that we actually decided to spend two weeks on this vacation!!  This is the first time that we've ever taken two consecutive weeks off since either one of us has been working.

Day 1-3  Vegas

To break up our flights, we decided to do a two day Vegas layover.  Basically Cody knows exactly what to say to get me to want to go back to Vegas!  Haha!  This time we had just enough time to do our favorite things...  We stayed at the Mirage for the first time ever. 

We've always been curious about the Mirage's pool, because it looks really nice.  

Unfortunately, it was like 60 degrees out when we were there, and they had most of the pool all sectioned off.  The only had a small pool open, with one lone life guard.  Poor girl... 60 degree weather and she was freezing.

The Mirage also has a really nice area with a ton of plants inside as well.  Here is one of my favorite pictures of Cody.

We got to watch our Bellagio fountains.

There was a street magician there doing tricks. This guy was actually pretty funny and had some neat tricks.  We love watching the decent street performers that are on the strip.

The Bellagio was still decorated for the fall.  We love seeing the different decorations every season.  There are some pieces that they re-arrange and use every year, but every year it's a different layout with different things added to it.

These peacocks were completely new.  We hadn't seen anything here like them before.

We were able to eat at the Bellagio buffet on Saturday night.  These little desserts are Cody's absolute favorite.  They are in a small waffle cone and the bottom is filled with nutella.  They are quite yummy!  I liked putting their apple cobbler in a small dish and putting vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce on top.  Yummm!!

We have been playing MyVegas online for years now, and you build up points and can use them for actual things in Vegas.  Well, we hadn't seen the Zumanity show yet and it was free from MyVegas, so we decided to go see it.  I have to say that this was the only Cirque Du Soleil show that I've seen that I've actually enjoyed.  It was an interesting show (lots of nudity), it was a lot of cool acrobatics and comedy thrown in.  We would recommend this show.

I was also able to get $75 in free play from MyVegas at the Mirage.  I played a couple of different games, but then I ended up playing a Buffalo game.  I ended up with $165 from my free play money!  Not too shabby!!

We went to Cesaer's buffet (for probably the last time).  It has been voted the "best" buffet in the world.  And honestly... a couple years ago I might have agreed.  However, now it costs $65 a person to get in!!  And the wait is always ridiculous!  So much so that they've actually installed kiosks that you walk up to and it gives you a return time.  This is actually quite an improvement because a few years ago we stood in line for 3 hours waiting for this buffet!!!   When it first came out they had freshly steamed king crab legs and a fantastic meats section.  This year it just seemed like they didn't have very much on the buffet and we were both kind of disappointed.  Even the dessert section (which I've always boasted was the best in Vegas) didn't seem to have a whole lot on it this year.  It is also always filled to capacity and it takes a while to get your food because you have to wait in lines for everything.  Overall, I don't think we'd go back again.  Kind of a bummer to see it go down hill, and for the prices to be raised so high... the year it came out it was only $45 which was totally worth it.

Day 4 - Travel Day

We woke up on Monday at 3:30am to catch our flight out of Vegas to San Francisco.  This was our first time in San Francisco and I have to say that this airport was ridiculous!!  Once we got off of our flight from Vegas we had to go to a different terminal to catch our connecting flight... and they made us LEAVE the airport and catch a bus to the other terminal and go back through security!  WHAT!?!?!   I've been to a lot of airports before... all throughout our country and all over the world... and this is the FIRST airport that has ever done this to me...  I have NEVER had a layover in a city and had to go back through security before getting to my next gate.  Any other airport has a transportation system that gets you to another terminal without making you walk out of the airport and go back through security.  So BEWARE if you ever have a layover at San Francisco, make sure that you have plenty of time so that you can go back through security and not miss your connecting flight.  I have to imagine quite a few people miss their connecting flights out of there all of the time because of this.

The flight to Maui from San Fransisco was 5 and 1/2 hours long, but our total travel time from Vegas to Maui including our layover had us arriving at 3:30pm Maui time.  So we had spent a looong day traveling.  When we opened up our trunk of our rental car, we got a nice little surprise!  The people before our left us some things.  They had two beach chairs with an umbrella, and then a cooler filled with a bunch of drinks (including half a bottle of Malibu!) so woohoo for us!  We ended up doing the same thing when we returned the car and left a "pay it forward" note with the stuff.

 We got to stay at the Kaanapali Beach Resort which is a Diamond Resort property.  This is one of the nicer resorts that our vacation club offers, so we were super excited to get this place! (We booked 13 months in advance, yay for being good planners!!)    It also took about an hour to get from the airport to our hotel, and by the time that we got checked in and done talking to the resort timeshare people, it was 5:30pm!  

Which happened to be about the perfect time to watch the sun start to set.  :)

 Here are some pictures of our room.  This is our living room.

Here's another view that shows the dining room table and full kitchen.  Having a fridge while traveling is my favorite part of our vacation club!  I love having rooms with a fridge because it is just so convenient to be able to have little snacks and cold drinks throughout the day without having to worry about buying it.  We always go to a local grocery store on our first day in and stock up on breakfast food items, some lunch/snack items, and some drinks for the room.

We were impressed by how big our bathroom was!  You can't see it in this picture, but we actually had two sinks!

Here is our bed.

We also had a pretty decent sized balcony too!  We had access to walk out from our bedroom and from our living room.  Our first night in, we were exhausted from traveling and I was getting hangry.  So we went to the grocery store (which was conveniently right across the street from us).  We were shocked by the prices of things!  We had always heard that prices were higher in Hawaii because everything is imported onto the island, but we were surprised by the price tag of over $5 a gallon for milk when we are used to paying $1.50 or less at Aldis at home.  After grabbing some groceries, we stopped at a small little food shop in that same plaza and grabbed something quick to eat.  I think that we unpacked our clothes and went to bed pretty early that night.

Day 5 - Old Lahaina Luau

Cody and I had spent MONTHS researching and planning our trip before we came to Hawaii.  We had a lot of exciting things planned for our 11 days in Maui.  Our plan for day 1 in Maui was no plan!  We were going to sleep in and just explore around and hang out in the pool.  Well...  5am and I'm wide awake in bed. I actually decided to get up and head down to the beach with my camera and tripod.  I took a bunch of different pictures and enjoyed the sunrise.

Off in the distance there were about 5 or 6 surfers out catching some waves in the morning.  I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them with my 300mm zoom lens!

Here's a group of them getting ready to catch a wave.  They were so much fun because they were so active, and one of them was surfing a wave every time one came in.  Later in our trip, I was trying to take pictures of a surfer closer to me so that I could get even better pictures... but watching just one or two people was boring after watching all these guys, because it took them forever to catch a wave.  But these guys were AWESOME!

Here's one of my favorite pics of them.

After taking pictures of them for a while, I decided to take some of the resort while it was still empty.  Here is our pool area.  Cody and I loved this pool, and spent quite a bit of time here.

 Here is one of the waterfall features.

You can see another one by the pool.  There was a small pool right in the waterfall too.

This is the hot tub!  I guess they just installed this in the last month or two.  It was HUGE!!

Here are some other areas of the resort.

ANOTHER waterfall!  I think that they had 5 different ones throughout the property.  One thing that we loved about this resort, was that the pool area was big, but the resort itself wasn't TOO big.  Some resorts are so large that you have to take a shuttle/drive to get to the pool.  We had a pretty short walk from our room to get to the main pool area, so that was really nice.

I know that I mentioned our itinerary/plan for the week before, but encase anyone was wondering, this is what we had planned out.  Now everything didn't exactly work out day by day as listed in this plan, but it did give us ideas of things that we wanted to do. 

We also had a list of activities that we were interested in.  I had it all detailed out as to where it was, how much it cost, the description, if it needed reservations or not...  We had 25 activities that we were interested in.  We didn't do every single one that we had looked at, but I was pretty happy with how many we were able to check out while we there.  We did this list with restaurants too. 

I even kept a list of all of the websites that I reviewed while during our research as a resource list too.  I found the Pride of Maui's website SO helpful that we actually booked our snorkeling trip through them.  Seriously, if you're planning a trip to Maui let me know and I'll send you my spreadsheet to help you out with your planning. 

Once Cody got up, we decided to walk down the beach and check out the areas around us.

Here we both are on the beach in front of our resort.

I looooved these trees in Maui that looked like a canopy above!  I think it's because it reminded me of the Lion King.

There was a boardwalk that connected all of the resorts around us to each other.  Cody and I decided to go on a little walk to check things out.  There were little shop stands set up by some of the resorts.  After walking around and getting sweaty we went back to our resort for some quality pool time.

We had reservations for the Old Lahaina Luau this night (more on this later), so we decided to go to Lahaina ahead of time to check it out.  The luau has all drinks you want there, so we were going to take the bus there, and then uber home.  But as we were walking to the bus stop, an old woman that worked at our hotel stopped and told us that she lived in Lahaina and would be willing to drop us off on her way.  I was a little skeptical/nervous about accepting a ride from her, because you never know if you can trust people...  but sure enough... we got in with her and she took us right to Front Street.  We offered to pay her, but she flat out refused and said that she just liked being nice to people and that she gave people rides all the time.  It was really nice of her.  Front Street is full of shops and restaurants and is pretty much the happening place to be in Maui.  We went there almost every day during our trip.  It wasn't even all that far away from our resort either.  Our first time, we just walked up and down front street (about a mile or two long) and looked at the various places on the strip. We also got to stop by the Bayan tree.  Which is a tree that takes up a whole block right at the end of Front Street.  You can see the main section of it in this picture.

We ended up stopping at a booth that said tickets for less (no timeshare).  Well... the guy ended up offering us almost $600 in discounted tickets!  We got a great price on a helicopter tour (which I really wanted to do!), a sunset cruise, and a whale watching tour.  So we ended up signing up for it and agreeing to go to their presentation later on in our trip.  The guy that was helping us book, actually had his wife come and pick us up to take us to our luau (because it was probably a 30-45 min walk away from where we were and we spent more time talking with him than we'd hoped).  Overall though, we were pretty happy with it.  The guys wife was really nice and pointed things out as she drove us. 

 Now onto the main event for the night!  We had done quite a bit of research about Maui before coming, and we had heard that the Old Lahaina Luau was the best luau in Maui.  But everywhere we looked warned that it sold out at least 3 months in advance.  So we were smart enough to book our tickets ahead of time for our first full day in Maui.

And WOW!  We were not disappointed!  As soon as we came in, they had drinks waiting and leis with fresh flowers to put on us.  By the way, like my dress?  I actually bought it earlier that day to wear that night.

The luau is right on the ocean, and we were there early for photo ops.  They actually had all kinds of stations setup with different activities all around.

Here we are and you can see the people looking at different things.  The Mai Tai's that they gave us were so good that we couldn't put them down.  And in hindsight that is actually pretty funny, because I actually didn't like the Mai Tai's from anywhere else on the island, and ended up giving them to Cody to finish any other time that I got one.  These were the best ones that we had, and I actually liked them a lot.

Here is the pig that was roasting in the ground the whole day.  I saw everyone walking over to this area, and we didn't know why at first, but when I realized what it was we zoomed over so that we could get pictures.

There she be!

This was after they had gotten all the meat.  And oh my goodness was it good!  As a matter of fact, ALL of the food that they served at this luau was out of this world good.  Everything was delicious.  They has so many different types of food too.

Here we are waiting for the show to start.  If this picture looks familiar... it should... it was on our Christmas card this year.

Before and throughout the luau, they had a live band playing Hawaiian music.  

The show was a nice show, and it taught you about Hawaiian culture.  The only thing that I was expecting to see was fire dancing... which they did not do at this luau.  I know that other luau's do do this, so I was disappointed that ours didn't.  However, besides that... the food, drinks, and service were fantastic!  We had a great time at the luau, and they even gave us banana bread to go home.  Oh yeah... this might be a good time to mention that banana bread is a thing on Maui.  It is a very popular local food, and it is sold everywhere.

Day 6 - Rappelling

The next day we were off to do what I feel was the highlight of the trip for me... rappelling down waterfalls!  When we were booking this at home, I was like "Oh wow!  This is going to be such a neat thing to do!"  I had no nerves or worries or fears... 

Then we get there and we are lining up to do our first practice/dry run.  Well there was a family of 4 with us, and the father says that he's done this before so he'll go first.  WELL, he does TERRIBLE!  I mean he stumbles and falls at every step he takes, and he can barely right himself... and it's just a train wreck honestly.  So I'm watching him, and I'm like oh god... that's going to be me.  I don't know if I can do this, because I'm going to fall and not be able to correct myself...  So I'm really getting really nervous watching this guy.  I'm not going to lie... there were a couple of seconds there when I was thinking about chickening out, but then I was like, aw man this was totally my idea and I made us come here... I have to do it...  Then his 15 year old son goes, and is flawless!  Hardly falls at all, and does a great job... and I'm like hrmm...

  Then Cody goes, and I think he stumbled once or twice, but overall he did a pretty good job... 

So now it's my turn, and I'm pretty nervous at this point... Most of the course is an easy walk down, but right at the beginning there is a hump (as you can see) and almost everyone in our group got tripped up by it.  You can see by the dirt on my knees, that I was not an exception to this.  I did fall down, but I had been listening to the woman instructing the people before me, and I was able to correct myself pretty easily.  I'm was super proud of myself!

Here we are after the first dry run!  

Here Cody goes down his first waterfall!!

There he goes down!  And if you're wondering how these pictures are so good... they had a professional photographer taking pictures of us.  They were doing market research to see if it was worth adding professional pictures to their business, so they told us that they would email us the pictures for free if we would give them feedback about how we felt about the pictures and how much we'd be willing to pay for them!  SCORE!  You KNOW how happy I was about that!

Here I am getting ready to go.  The hardest part about rappelling is starting out.  Once you get into a rhythm and start walking down it's not as bad.  Oh who am I kidding!  It was scary the whole freaking time!!

This is my favorite picture!!  I love how the guide at the bottom and Cody are watching me go!  He's so brave sitting in the water watching... because burrrr that water was COLD!

Here is a picture of me almost towards the end.  I had just fallen and recovered, and the waterfall was getting in my face.  I was about half down, and I looked down and I was like oh my gosh!  I still have so far to go!  It was at that point that the camera guy goes, hey stop and pose for me.  Cody said it the best, "Stop and pose?  I'm fighting for my life here!  And you want me to take a picture!?!?"  Now I love pictures more than most... but even I was thinking that when he asked me for a picture.

On the two actual waterfalls, Cody and I ended up going first.  So we were sitting in the cold water waiting for the family of 4 to finish up.  So we climbed up onto rocks and waited for them to finish until we moved on to the next area. The dad struggled a whole lot and it took him quite a while to get going until he finally just gave up and said he wasn't going to do it.  Which was crazy to me, because as a family of 4 they spent so much money to do this excursion, and he was passing on it... but hey to each their own.

 I'm so glad that we got these professional pictures, because our gopro had a drop of water on the lens and almost all of our footage came out bad!  We were able to get a few good pictures, but not all that many.  Once we were done rappelling, then we had to hike back UP!  PHEW!  That was quite a workout.  We walked up a bunch of stairs all uphill.  I felt pretty out shape climbing back up, but we did it.  

Rappelling was the single scariest thing that I think either one of us has ever done!  It was a huge adrenaline rush unlike anything that I've ever done before.  Zip lining, parasailing, scuba diving, cave tubing, segwaying, nothing compares to rappelling!   You are totally relying on yourself to get yourself down, and you really have to trust in the harness and equipment holding you in.  We both really enjoyed the experience and were very glad that we got to do it.  I don't know if we'll get a chance to go rappelling again, but if the opportunity presented itself, I would definitely be interested in trying it out again.

I almost forgot to mention... that in order to get to our rappelling destination... we had to drive on the Road to Hana.  Now the Road to Hana is supposed to be one of the top attractions in Maui, and the road is listed as one of the top 10 most beautiful drives in the world (1 out of 3 that are in the US).  It is also nicknamed the Divorce Highway, because the drive is so difficult.  It has a lot of sharp turns, curves, one way bridges, and narrow roads.  Our rappelling destination was at mile marker 10.5 of 40-50 miles of the Road to Hana, so we got to see a bit of it.  We were planning on coming back a few days later and doing a full day trip to the road to Hana, but the short drive that we did with this tour made me feel SO car sick.  Bleh!  I was miserable on the drive, and I really thought I was going to throw up in the back of the van we were riding in (luckily I made it).  The guides also mentioned that this was the EASY part of the drive, and that people usually have a hard time further into the drive (UGH!)  And to be quite honest... we weren't all THAT impressed with the view that we saw (maybe farther down it gets better??)  And that side of the island gets 400 inches of rain a year, and this was rain season (for reference our side of the island gets 8 inches of rain a year).  So we were going to go on the road to Hana on the second week of our trip, but the chance of rain/storms was 90% everyday.  So we decided to scrap the Road to Hana from our plans.  And I'm not going to lie... this was something that we went back and forth on...  The rentless, we're never going to be here again, so we have to get everything in part of me, was really upset that we weren't going.  But the I don't want waste a day driving for at least 6 hours and being car sick the whole time, to have it rain all day and not be able to get out/take any pictures/enjoy anything... part of me won out.  That rentless part of me above regrets not doing the Road to Hana, but overall... I think it would have been a wasted day for us and I don't think I would have liked it.

That night we got dinner at Paia Fish Market.  This place was awesome!  It was like a quick service seafood place.  You place an order at the counter and you get a number for when your order is up (kind of like at Wendy's).  The prices and portions were great there, and the food was delicious!  We ended up eating there a couple of times.  This is a favorite place in Maui and I believe that there are 4 different locations throughout the island.  The one that we ate at was the one in Lahaina.  We ended up picking up a pizza from Prison Street Pizza to have throughout the week that night as well.

Day 7 - Thanksgiving

Our 7th day of our trip was Thanksgiving day.  I ended up going across the street and getting a mani/pedi.  I was happy that the prices were the same as they are back home.  I was hoping to get a pedicure at home before we left, but it was cold/snowy at home and that's never a fun time to get a pedicure because I like to wear sandals afterwards... so I waited to get one in Maui.  Cody ended up sitting in our room for a while watching football... so we both did what we wanted in the morning. 

It was a beautiful 80 degree so we spent most of the afternoon by the pool.  We were sooo happy to not be in the cold and that we were swimming in a pool.  We did miss everyone at home though.

Cody did a really good job on finding us somewhere to go for Thanksgiving dinner.  He really took point on this, and researched a lot of places.  The Tiki Terrace at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel is rated as one of the best Sunday brunches in Maui, and their Thanksgiving buffet did not disappoint.  They had so many different choices, and the food was SO good!!  

I have not had a prime rib cooked so perfectly... in... probably ever...  I always end up not eating prime rib because it's always cooked too quickly and is usually very rare.  This was cooked perfectly!

The dessert table was unbelievable!  We were already stuffed from all the food on the buffet, but we had to try the different varieties of desserts!  I mean wow!  We were so happy with our choice to come here, and would highly recommend it!

Day 8 - Haleakala Summit

On Friday we woke up at 2:30am to make the 3 hour drive to get to the summit of the volcano, Haleakala, to see the sunrise.  We had read that this was a MUST do in Maui... so we got up and did it.  We got there an hour or so before the sun started to rise, so I took some pictures of the stars all around us.  There were quite a few stars at that latitude (over 10,000 ft above sea level).  We got there early enough to where we were able to go all the way to the top, and get a good parking spot.   The road to get there was a pain in the butt to drive!  I think the road had a curve every 100-200 feet.  It is a good thing that Cody is a professional driver and was able to do the drive.  I did feel a little carsick at one point from all the turns.  This also further convinced me not to want to do the road to Hana, because this drive wasn't even advertised as being rough/making people get car sick.

Silhouette picture of us right before the sunrise.

The sunrise was pretty, but there were clouds on the day that we were there, so I think it blocked a lot of the view.

It was still cool to watch though.

Here we are right at sunrise.  And you might be wondering why we are all bundled up in Maui?  Well it's because the top of the volcano is cold!  It was like 40 degrees up there before the sun rose.

We actually had a lot of fun at Haleakala.  After the sun rises, the place clears out pretty quickly, but we stayed around to take pictures and go on some short hikes.


I specifically brought my tripod to Maui with the intent of using it here, and we had SO much fun taking pictures of each other. 

Since we had the camera on the tripod, I just pointed it in the right area, put it on a 10 second timer and ran over to be in the picture haha.

We were walking around to different areas and doing different poses and taking pictures of each other.

Another picture we took of ourselves.

Here we are at the top elevation point at the summit of the volcano.

Another picture of us that I really like.

Here's a picture Cody took of me taking a picture of the volcano.

Then we had a lot of fun doing funny poses and finding places to take pictures at.  Cody has come a looong way from when I first met him.  He used to not like pictures and would on occasion complain about having to take them...

 But now he actively gets into it and comes up with ideas on pictures to take, or points things out that we should get a picture of.  Makes me so happy!!

He actually took almost 300 pictures himself during our trip this time.  Together we took almost 1,500... so yeah... I guess I still take more than him, but he's getting there!

He takes really good pictures too.

This is one of my favorite pictures of me.  Thanks babe!

Here he is being the king of the hill...

Looking out into the distance...

Just below the top of the volcano is a big parking lot (where most people go to watch the sun rise) and that is also where the Haleakala Visitor Center is at.  After having fun taking pictures at the summit for a while... we decided to head down there.

We found a small trail that was about .2 miles uphill from the visitor center, so we decided to hike up it.  I'm not the biggest fan of uphill hikes (out of shape!) but it wasn't all that bad.  We loved the view from the area that we walked up to!  Here are some pictures from that area.

By this point, the sun was up and it had warmed up a little bit... so I took off my jacket for some pictures.

Here I am at the overlook.

We had fun taking pictures here too.  My only regret was putting the tripod in the car, and not carrying it up here.  We were the only ones here so there wasn't anyone to take a picture of us.

Selfie for the win!

I love this picture!  I changed the aperture on my camera to get the sun to look like a star burst.  Yay for taking a camera class before our trip, and having an idea on how to work my camera.

A couple more...

 Being silly...  It was so fascinating being above the clouds.

This is a picture of the Leleiwi Lookout.  At first it looked like those clouds were going to roll right into the valley area, but then they stopped.  I guess around 2-3pm the clouds roll into the area, and you are so close to the clouds that if the conditions are right, you can actually see your reflection in the clouds.  Legend says that it is like seeing your soul.  I so wanted to see that and try to get a picture of it, but we were there at like 9-10am and couldn't wait for the clouds to come in.

So we took a few pictures there.  This time, I did bring my tripod on the hike with us.

Here's some of the pictures.

Love this one.  Not too shabby for running over, clicking the shutter, and then having it beep for 10 seconds before taking the picture.

Cody actually bought me a wireless remote for Christmas.  I should be able to have it in my hand, and control my shutter with it.  Yay!  Can't wait to try it!  After taking some short hikes, and taking a bunch of pictures at Haleakala, we decided to leave and head to the Ali'i Lavender farm.  However, once we got there... it really didn't look like much... and they charged you $4 a person to get in.  So we decided to turn around and leave.

Talking about not a whole there...  We went to Ioa Valley State Park and paid $5 to get in.  Hrmm... talk about a tourist trap.  There are no trails there, and just a limited view to see things.

The infamous, Ion Needle, as you see above is the main attraction...  Yeah... we were probably there for like 10 minutes maybe...  But I guess it was cool to see it??  If we'd have known what it was like we'd probably have saved our time on the drive there, and just gone back to our hotel for some more pool time. But oh well...  I guess you live and learn.  At least it wasn't raining on this day... because on just about every other day of our trip it looked like it was raining there.  The rest of the day we just hung out by the pool, and then cooked burgers/hot dogs on the grill at the resort.  It was super windy that night though, and Cody was really lucky to just get a grill lite.

Day 9 - Snorkeling Trip

We woke up at 6am to get to our snorkeling boat location, and about halfway to our destination we get a phone call from the snorkeling people telling us that it was too windy for the boat we were supposed to go out to make it out.  We booked at small boat with like 30 people on it for a 6 hour tour.  We were bummed because we were already up, and almost there... literally the first place that we could turn around at was the marina.  So they told us that they could either reschedule us or we could go out on one of the bigger boats that was going out that day.  Since we were already there, and we didn't want to have to get up early another day... we figured that we'd just go out on the bigger boat.  Instead of the smaller boat we went out on the Pride of Maui for 5 hours.

 Cody bought us full face snorkel masks with this trip in mind.  Basically it's an all in one mask, and you don't have to put the snorkel tube in your mouth.  You can just breath in the mask.

This mask worked great for Cody, and I think that this is the first snorkeling trip that he was able to enjoy.  Usually his mask floods on him, and he's done within a couple of minutes.

Me on the other hand...   Turns out that the 10 minutes that I usually snorkel is about the right amount of time for me...  Or maybe?  I don't know...  Remember how I said that it was really windy that day and not many boats were going out?  Well in hindsight, I wish that we had rescheduled instead of going out.  The water was super choppy, and I was getting sea sick in the water (another nail in the coffin for the road to Hana).  I muuuuch prefer scuba diving to snorkeling, because once you go down about 10 feet the waves aren't a problem.  And even though I could breath "normally" in my mask, I kept lifting my mask up to get fresh air.

I did stay out most of the time during our first stop.  This was at turtle bay in Makena, and I was bound and determine to see a sea turtle swimming.  Apparently a lot of sea turtles hang out in this area, and eat algae off of the reef during the day.  There were hardly any other fish around that area either... but finally someone called out that they saw a turtle.  Cue 50 people swimming as fast as the could to see it.  The darn turtle got startled and hid under the reef before I got there, but I did see a baby sea turtle.  I circled him in the picture, because I don't think you'd see him without it.  We did have a huge pod of like 20 dolphins swim by us though as we were leaving!!  It was sooo cool!!  They were doing flips and playing with each other.  I think it was the highlight of the trip for me.  The food on the boat was also good.


  The main area in the trip was to a small little island called Molokini, and it is supposed to have fantastic snorkeling.  The captain told us at the beginning of the trip that he didn't think that we'd make it to Molokini that day because it was too rough of water over there.  However, after our first stop though he said that other boats had made it there and that we were going to try it out.  As a matter of fact, including our boat, there were only 3 boats in this area, on a normal day they say that there are 20-30 boats in this area... so that tells ya something.  I was already feeling sick from the last stop and I was going to sit down for a bit and then head out... but the captain said "the trade winds are coming in, and they could come in at any moment... and after that you probably won't want to snorkel here.  So if you're gonna go... go now.  So... rentless me... gets out and goes...  and the waves were BAD!  I wish that we hadn't gone to that stop and had tried somewhere else that might have been calmer.  I was out that for probably 5 minutes and the waves were just too much for me.  There was a worker in the water with a surf board and she was helping people get back into the boat.  The boat was literally being lifted 5-10 feet high and then crashing down, so it was super hard to get up the stairs to get back on the boat.  I literally felt like she was rescuing me as she helped me get onto the boat.

Here you can see the boat after it had lifted up.  I swear... not 5-10 minutes after I had gotten back onto the boat that people started panicking and they were bum rushing to get back onto the boat.

Poor Cody... I was watching from the boat, and he was having the hardest time getting back on.  Like I said, people were panicking, and were just cutting in front of him to get onto the ship.  They had two areas on the ship to get on, and he was swimming from side to side trying to get back on.  When he was finally able to get onto the stairs, the boat bucked up into the air and he was trying to hold on, but they told him to jump off before the boat crashed down!  It was crazy!!  I think that within 15 minutes of getting to that location everyone was back on the boat.  

Besides the dolphins, my favorite part of the trip was the ride back.  The captain mentioned that we were going to be taking on some sea spray.  Cody and I happened to be sitting next to the captain's box, so we were protected from the sea spray, but everyone around us were getting drenched.  That whole side of the ship was full of people when we started out, but only this mom and her daughter stayed in the area.  Oh my gosh, these two were hilarious with their reactions to the sea spray.  It really had us cracking up.

Here you can see everyone else trying to stop the sea spray.  The stairs are on the right hand side, and Cody and I were watching the unsuspecting people coming up to the top deck and their reactions when the sea spray hit them.  We were kind of snickering and laughing at it.  Hehehe.

Here you can see the rainbow in the distance.  Hawaii is known as the rainbow state, and we saw sooo many rainbows on our trip.  The song "Somewhere over the rainbow" is actually a Hawaiian song, and was played everywhere we went, and it was always followed up by the song "What a wonderful world."  Overall, our snorkeling trip was ok...  It was a little too rough for my liking.

Afterwards, we went to Leoda's to get some pies.  Every time that we drove past this place during our entire trip, the line was always out the door.

Here you can see their awards for winning the best dessert in Maui for 6 years in a row.

Mmmm!!  The individual apple pies that we got were yummy.  And the next day we went back and got banana bread from them and apple turnovers (they had sold out the first time we were there).  Yummmm!!!  Those apple turnovers were the best turnovers that either one of us had ever eaten!  They were moist and just delicious!  I would so recommend stopping here if you go to Maui.

We went to Captain Jack's for their happy hour special.  We got a seat right on the end where we could look out onto Front Street.  They also had live music playing.

Not too bad for a $2 shrimp taco!

Afterwards we went to Ululani's shaved ice.  Now shaved ice is all the rage in Maui, and we had read really good reviews about Ululani's being the best shaved ice in Maui.  So we decided to check them out.  

It took us so long to try it, because I thought it was like snow cone and I wasn't too enthused about it.  Holy smokes were we wrong!!  This shaved ice was AMAZING!  It was light and powery and full of flavor.  They put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the bottom, and it was delicious!!  YUM!  We looooved it, and couldn't believe we'd been in Maui so long without trying it.  If you ever go to Maui, you have to track Ululani's down right off of Front Street and get their shaved ice.

Day 10 - Helicopter Tour/Mama's Fish House

HELICOPTER TOUR DAY!!!!  I was so pumped to go on a helicopter tour during our trip!  This experience was on my bucket list, and I was super excited to get to do it.

Here we are getting ready to go!

So excited!

Cody was excited for it too.

We loved the view and the vantage point that we got to see.

We got to go to parts of the island that you can only see by Helicopter.

Double rainbow over the ocean.

Here is our pilot.  We did an 8am tour so we had the rest of the day to explore.

Afterwards, we decided on the fly to explore the north/upcountry of Maui.  Here is a picture from the end of Dragon Tooth Trail.  We were walking over all of those rocks.  We hadn't planned on doing a lot of hiking on this day, and we only wore sandals so all the hiking we did was hard!

This trail was right by a Maui golf course, so Cody was searching for balls.

He ended up finding two of them.

It was windy this day too.  It was windy for like 3 or 4 days of our trip.

Here's some more pictures of us, timing up the sea spray pictures.

Cody's becoming a good picture taker!

Here we are after walking the trail to see blow hole.

It was a hard trail to walk wearing sandals!!  

Later that night before dinner, we went to Hookipa Beach Park in Paia in hopes of seeing sea turtles.  I really wanted to see turtles darn it!  And hooray!  There were a bunch of turtles there.  Sea Turtles are an endangered species so it is illegal to disturb or harm a sea turtle.  And you can go to jail for touching a sea turtle, because the grease from our skin will actually cause white boils to pop up on them.

So there was one guy that was away from the pack, laying on the beach instead of the rocks, and I was able to get good pictures of him with my 300MM zoom.

I also wanted to get a picture with him, but I was keeping my distance so as not to disturb him.

Yay for getting to see a giant sea turtle!

That night we had dinner at Mama's Fish house, which is the most popular/famous restaurant in Maui. It is rated as the #1 restaurant, and every guide book/website that I read said to eat there.

Our food was good there, but the portions were small and the price was high.  It was cool to get to say that we've been here though.  We both had lobster stuffed macadamia nut crusted mahi mahi.  Yummy!

We enjoyed taking pictures on the grounds.

Here we are in front of Mama's,

Pictures by the beach. 

That night we decided to go to Local Boys Shaved Ice.  We had heard that the locals thought it was a toss up between Ululane's and Local Boys as to who had the best shaved ice... so we thought we'd judge for ourselves.  Hands down Ululane's had more flavor and was better in our opinion. 

Day 11 - Whaler's Village/Kimos

The next day, we really didn't do a whole lot.  We slept in and watched some tv in our room.  Then we wandered out kind of late to Whaler's Village (which is basically a big shopping area full of expensive stores).  We had heard that Front Street was "time share central" by truly Whaler's Village should have that title.  There were timeshares all around.  We actually ended up going to a Marriott time share presentation.  I've always been curious about Marriott and we've never had a chance to see one of their presentations.  I was a little disappointed by the lack of areas that they have resorts in.

That night we went to Kimo's for their Chef Tasting menu.  For $27 you get an appetizer, entree, and dessert.  We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of food that we got, and the view was wonderful of the ocean.

The guy at the Marriott gave us a Marriott reward card, which got us a free Hula Pie from Kimos!  It was an ice cream cake with fudge and macadamia nuts on it.  Yumm!!!

Day 12 - Whale Watching

We finally had to go to the "timeshare" presentation today that had given us our discounted tickets.  Now this program was a vacation club that was similar to our global discovery vacations program, except that I think that our program is better.  So while a lot of people did buy the program, we did not.  Right afterward we went to Paia Fish market for lunch and then we checked in for our whale watching tour.  Now whale watching season is from late Nov to March with it peaking in Jan/Feb.  So we were juuuuust at the beginning of the season when we were there.

I was really into getting to see wild life during this tour though!!  So I was super excited and kind of pushed for us to go on this tour.  I think Cody would have been fine passing on it, but I told him that I always get him to do all kinds of things he'd normally not do...  Soooo here we were...

And we didn't get to see any whales up close!  The boat didn't have any equipment to find whales and they said they were relying on people to spot them.  The guy from the Marriott presentation told me that you need to look with an island as a background and then you can easily spot their blowhole/splashes.  So we are looking and looking, and then I tried his tip and I was the first person to spot a whale!!! I saw him and pointed him out, and then the boat went over to him.  However, as we got closer he dove under water and we didn't get to see him up close.  I was really bummed out.  We did get to see a pod of bottle nose dolphins jumping around though.

That night we ate in Hula Grill for their chef's special which was also good.

 We really enjoyed the brownie dessert that they served us.

Day 13 - Sunset Cruise

 We didn't do a whole lot  on this day.  We got up and spent most of the day in the pool, until it was time to go on our sunset dinner cruise on the Quick Silver. 

At first it looked like we got screwed, because the discount ticket guy forgot to call our names in.  So luckily the Quick Silver people were able to sort it out, and get enough food on the ship for us to be able to go on the boat.  I told them that this was our last full day and that we were leaving the next day.

The crew was very friendly and very helpful.  The sunset was beautiful, and we basically just were going really slowly in the water.  We talked to the people around us and enjoyed cuddling up with each other.  This was rated as one of the top "romantic" things to do on Maui, and I have to say that it was pretty romantic.

Day 14 - Last Maui Day

Our flight out of Maui was at 11:50pm, so even though we were leaving this day we had a full day to do whatever we wanted.  So we went and got a shaved ice, got some last minute souvenirs,  and spent most of the day by the pool.  Then we went to the Sheraton to watch their cliff diving ceremony.

This ceremony is rich in Hawaii tradition, and is done to honor one of their past kings.  A cliff diver guy runs all throughout the resort and the beach up a giant black cliff, and then he jumps off a couple of times.

Here he is walking back after jumping off of the cliff.

After this we went back to the Hula Grill, because they had two different menus (fancy side and bar side) and we really liked their chocolate brownie from the night before.  Plus we had gotten $150 in food voucher credit watching the Marriott presentation, and this was one of the places on our list that we could use up our money at.  After dinner, we went back to our hotel and packed up to make the hour drive to the airport.  We had an overnight flight, and we had a hard time getting to sleep.  We flew into LA, and there was really heavy fog so our connecting plane couldn't land in LA, so they told us that we were going to be delayed for a couple of hours.  But luckily they found another plane, and we walked to another terminal to get out of LA relatively around the right time.

Day 15 - Back to Vegas

 To break up our flights, we decided to do a 1 day layover in Vegas again.  We got into Vegas around 10:30am, went to Miller's Ale House for lunch (yum!), and then we checked into the current Monte Carlo, but soon to be Park MGM.  Here is one of their renovated rooms.  They gave it to us for free to try out to promote the rooms.  You can definitely tell that the place was under renovation, but the location was perfect for the area of the strip that we like to hang out at, and the price tag of free is always good.

We happened to be in Vegas during the Vegas Strong benefit concert to help raise money for the victims of the October shooting.  Wow!  What a show!  They called it for Vegas by Vegas. Carrot Top, Boyz 2 Men, Jay Leno, Imagine Dragons, Blue man group, Cirque Du Soilel, David Copperfield, Penn and Teller,  and the Killers all performed.  Now some of these people, if you'd have blinked you would have missed their performance, but some of them put on a nice little show.  My favorites were Boyz 2 Men, Jay Leno, Penn and Teller, and Imagine Dragons.  I didn't know it but the group Imagine Dragons are guys from Vegas, and they had a nice little speech that they said to the audience about Vegas and the community.  You could tell that the place was filled with mostly locals.  We got tickets on the day of the show, so I don't think that it was completely sold out, but it felt crowded and almost sold out when we were there.  Oh my gosh, the poor main singer, he was up there and his pants split in half.  It was pretty funny, they were bringing out stuff to try to hold his pants together.

At the end, they brought everyone back out, and everyone sang Viva Las Vegas.  It was a good show and a great end to our trip.  We had time in Vegas to watch this amazing show, go to the Bellagio buffet, watch the fountains, and gamble the night away.  Our flight home was the next day around 3:30pm, so with the time change we ended up getting home late on Saturday.  We wanted to have a day off to relax after traveling to get home.

Final Thoughts

My final thoughts on our trip is wow!!!  We did SO much, and we had so much fun during this trip.  We've always been interested in going to Hawaii, and I think that picking Maui was perfect for us.  There was so much to do in Maui, during the day at least...  we ended up in bed kind of early every night, because once we were done with dinner it didn't seem like there was a whole lot more to do in Maui.  The waters in Maui seemed pretty rough, but I have to think that a cruise to Hawaii might be the perfect way to see the Hawaiian islands.  If we ever go again, I think that is what we would consider doing.  New experiences on this trip were rappelling and going on a helicopter ride.  Cody also saw his first luau and went on a snorkeling trip.  I really feel like we made the most of our time.  We had done a lot of research ahead of time, and I'm happy with how smooth that helped our trip be.  One of the main things, is that we had ideas of where to go out to dinner.  The worst part of vacation for me is trying to figure out where to eat, so having ideas ahead of time of places we wanted to go to helped a lot.  This was really a chance in a life time for us, and we were so happy that we took the two weeks off.  We decided that we absolutely love traveling when the weather is bad at home, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the pool.  Our resort was great, and we'd highly recommend staying there.  Kaanapali is a nice area, and while it rains just about every day in Hawaii, it is only a little mist in Kaanapali (they only get 8 inches of rain in a year).  Kaanapali it also pretty close to Front Street, which was our favorite hang out spot.  We went to Front Street almost every day.  I hope that you enjoyed my blog about our trip, and like I said if you're ever going to Maui and need ideas for your vacation just let me know... I have all kinds of research and ideas for you.