June 19, 2018

Visiting the Parkers

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Quill, the goat, feeling very excited about things.
Last night, we went on a walk to the library. Both of us were exhausted from a long (but good!) weekend and not enough sleep the night before. After a long day at work (and at the mechanic's and working from a coffee shop all day for me), we got home to tackle the housework we didn't get to over the weekend. (Looking at houses + baking all day for the Girls' Camp fundraiser + Father's Day with all the dads = not enough time for chores at home.) Stephen was AMAZING and fixed our bathroom sink. I washed ALL the baking dishes and made dinner, and just as we were getting ready to settle down, we realized our microwave was broken. After poor Stephen's frustration with the sink (did I mention how AWESOME he is for figuring it out??), we were ready for a break and decided to go on a walk to our local library instead of staying home. Fresh air and a change of pace is good for our grumpy souls, it turns out.

I checked out two new books (this one to help us plan our one-year anniversary trip later this year, and this one, just for fun). I'm super excited for both! AND I've felt a renewed appreciation lately for my local library. I have so many books I want to read this summer, and it's nice that I can do it for free through our county library. Thanks, Ben, for the books!

On our walk home, we passed by our friends, the Parkers. We go to church with them, and they live really close to us. They also have a lot of land, where they have.... chickens! horses! cats! a bunny! and BABY GOATS!! I heard bleating as we walked past their fence, and lo and behold, baby goats were approaching us through the gate!

We had to stop and play with them, of course.

Kids love Stephen

The Parkers were finishing dinner, so hung out with the kids (Get it? Ha.) on our own for a while. The goats' names are Quill, Gamora, and Rocket. :) The grumps melted away almost instantly once we were playing with these little guys. :)

A few minutes later, the Parkers came out, and we met everyone else! (Except the second cat, which is fine by me, on account of I recently found out from one of those poke-you-in-the-back allergy tests that I am a 5/5 allergic to cats, 5 being the highest possible. But good news: I am NOT allergic to horses.)

Parker chickens

It turns out that playing with animals is also therapeutic for our grumpy souls. I even got to RIDE A HORSE FOR THE FIRST TIME, and it was really fun!

Parker horses

I'm grateful that we went on a walk last night, that it is *basically* summertime and stays light out much later, that we have such nice neighbors/church friends, and that they let us play with their animals (and also sent us home with a dozen fresh eggs + freshly picked cherries).

The moral of the story is: when the grumps have you down, go outside and/or visit some friendly animals!

May 31, 2018

Whale Watching + Lahaina Banyan Tree (and some food, of course!)

So excited for whale watching! 

One of the first things we did in Maui was to take a whale watching cruise. We were told peak whaling season ends in February, but the Pacific Whale Foundation (through whom we bought our cruise) also guaranteed us a whale sighting or we'd get to take another whale watching cruise for free within a year, so we figured why not book it?

And boy, were we glad we did! (Travel tip: you can book your whale watching cruise in advance. You can cancel without penalty up to 48 hours before your cruise, so it's a good move to book as soon as possible. As your trip date gets closer, you can check the weather to make sure you'll have good weather on your cruise. While I'm on a travel tip, I learned that they only offer sunrise cruises during peak season, which is why we took our cruise in the afternoon. Word on the street is that a sunrise whale cruise is an awesome experience. Oh, also, we booked our cruise leaving from Lahaina. If you do this, remember to leave plenty of time to find parking, most of which is in paid lots!)


Whalewatching in Maui

So excited to see whales! whalewatching cruise

We saw not one, not two, but THREE (maybe four?) whales! Our guide said it looked like a love triangle: two males fighting over a female, which seemed especially probably at the end of mating season when the pickings are slimmer. ;)

I'm not sure what I was expecting to see, but the first whale sighting came from a fellow passenger and was sort of underwhelming. In fact, I didn't even see it! The whales were far from our boat, and the only way we could tell they were there was because of the stream of water from their blowholes every time they came up for air. Our captain told us to scan the horizon to see the blowhole spouting better, and that definitely helped. See blowhole spouts below! (Note that the photos below were taken once our boat was closer to the whales.)

whale blowholes
whale blowholes spouting water

Our captain steered our boat as close to the whales as legally permissible, and then he turned off the engine. And then the whales got closer (there's no law governing how closely the whale can approach the boat), and one of them even swam RIGHT UNDER OUR BOAT!! See its back and blowhole in the photo below?? That's how close we were. It was amazing! I'm actually shocked its tail didn't whack the bottom of our boat as it swam.

Whale blowhole

Two whale videos from our cruise:

whale watching video whale tail in Maui

We had an amazing experience. I would highly recommend a whale watching cruise to anyone heading to Maui! Stephen and his parents have done whale watching cruises before, and they said this was, by far, their best experience ever. I guess my bar is set pretty high now! We decided that next time we're in Hawai'i, we'll try a dolphin cruise. :)

After our whale watching cruise, we spent some time in Lahaina Square. We stopped to snap a photo with the famed Lahaina Banyan tree, of course. It was originally planted in 1873, and its canopy spreads out over 2/3 of an acre! It's the largest banyan tree in the United States and the oldest banyan tree in Hawai'i.

Lahaina banyan tree With the in-laws at the banyan tree

And then we had some fantastic burgers (voted Best on Maui 13 years in a row) at the Cool Cat Cafe across the street. Our favorite was the monthly special, which included a burger patty, lettuce, tomato, bacon, a fried egg, and two glazed donuts in place of buns. It was so good! (Of note: I wish we'd known this beforehand, but the Cool Cat Cafe will validate parking!)

Donuts are better than buns any day

Oh, and I can't end this post without mentioning one of my favorite food discoveries from our first day: Dole Whips! AND, even better, I learned they are DAIRY-FREE! Woot woot!

Dole whip in Maui!

We headed back to our resort after dinner to wind down and relax. It was a great first day in Maui!



May 22, 2018

Maui Trip: my first time in Hawai'i!

Maui sunset

Stephen and I had the opportunity to travel to Hawai'i a few weeks ago. His parents have a timeshare and were gracious enough to invite us to tag along for a week-long adventure. Stephen has been to Hawai'i several times before, but this was my first time, and I was NOT disappointed! We spent our week in Maui relaxing, snorkeling, whale watching, road tripping, and eating delicious things. I'll have to cover our trip via several posts due to the insane number of photos I took, but for anyone looking to plan a similar trip to Maui, below is the basic rundown of what we did.

Made it to Maui!

LODGING

We stayed at the Sands of Kahana resort, where we were lucky enough to have a fully stocked and working kitchen. For that reason, the first thing we did once we left the airport was to make a pitstop at Costco. Hawai'i is expensive, so buying a few basic groceries helped us keep our money spent on eating out to a more reasonable amount and allowed us to enjoy our meals out guilt-free.

Sands of Kahana
View from our balcony
Sands of Kahana
The beach at our resort.
TRANSPORTATION

My in-laws arrived the day before we did and rented a car for the week, so we were lucky to get a ride from the airport. The island isn't that big, but it's big enough that you really will need to rent a car to get around. Photo below of the leis my cute mother-in-law brought to the airport to welcome us to Maui, since it was my first time in Hawai'i. So thoughtful!

Welcome leis Leis in Maui

DECIDING ON THE DAY'S ITINERARIES

I learned very quickly that the weather in Maui is quite fickle. We had laid out a tentative itinerary before our trip, but we had to be flexible because it was rainy and grey nearly every day we were there. So, unfortunately, we didn't come home with Hawai'i tans, but we had a good time anyway! I will say that while it is more work upfront, it was helpful to call ahead to some of the sites/venues we wanted to see so we knew their hours and cancellation/refund policies. For example, we booked a whale watching cruise but learned that we could cancel in advance for a refund. And we learned that they guarantee you'll see whales, or you get your money back! We also scheduled a luau that had a generous cancellation policy (you could cancel right up until the morning of). And since we had a rental car as our mode of transportation, it was easy to pack an assortment of supplies (snorkel gear, rain jackets, etc.) and clothing to suit the day's agenda.

More photos to come in other posts, but suffice it to say that Maui was amazing, everything was gorgeous, and we had such a wonderful time! 10/10 would recommend. :)

Maui rainbow
One pro to having rain on vacation: Maui RAINBOWS!!

January 23, 2018

Snowshoeing: MLK, Jr. Day 2018

Chatwinners go snowshoeing

It's been a while since I've gone snowshoeing, but for Christmas this (last?) year, I got snowshoes for Stephen! That meant I also got some for myself, and we decided to take them out for a trial run on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Snowshoes snowshoeing

We haven't had much snow this winter, so we had to drive a ways to even get to snow (though we did get a lovely snowstorm this past weekend!). We decided to go to the area near Snowbasin so we could visit my family in Ogden after. Our goal was to snowshoe on the Sardine Peak Trail. We got a little lost, but we still had a good time enjoying the fresh air and being outside. :)

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Here's hoping we can get some more snowshoeing in this winter! (And yes, I wore my ski goggles to go snowshoeing. 😁  Gotta be prepared for spontaneous snowball fights! Also, built-in sun protection. 😎 )

January 21, 2018

6 months!

Today is our 6-month anniversary! I still need to do a few real posts (I say a few, because there is NO WAY I could possibly share all the photos I want to share in just one post!) about our wedding, but I didn't want today to pass by without celebrating on this blog the fact that we've been married for a whole 6 months. :)

To mark the occasion, here are six photos from our wedding day:

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Stephen is everything I could have hoped for and more, and these past six months have been the best ones of my life. We've learned a lot and we've grown a lot. We've made some wonderful memories, and I'm excited for all that's yet to come. Happy 6-month anniversary, boo! 💕💏😍