Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

In a wine country…

Remember that old 80s song called “In a big country” – sung by the group Big Country?  No…hmm.  Well, that song is what’s going through my head as I write this.  P.S. It’s a great song – go YouTube immediately!

Anyways, Micah, myself – and four other friends are headin’ to wine country county….aka…Yakima!  Some do it consider this hot piece of land the “Napa Valley of Washington” (most likely coming from people who live in Yakima).  We are heading out East for two nights of camping and two days filled with wine tasting (there’s TONS of wineries out that way), u-pick fruiting (I’m hoping we can hit up peaches and cherries), and of course all the other fun stuff that goes with camping (e.g. eating, drinking, card playing, swimming, sunning, lounging – you get the idea).  Unfortunately, we still have one more day of work to get through.  Boo!!!

We did this same camping trip a few years back – and it was so much fun!

The weather is going to be HOT and sunny!  Watch out – major tan lines in progress.

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Happy campers with hot dog comas

Over 4th of July weekend, Micah and I went with a bunch of other friends camping!  It’s something we haven’t done in at least three years, although we really do enjoy it.

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Shocking, I know.  Micah with his shirt ON. Smile

With our car PACKED (literally, we had the whole back part of the SUV stuffed, plus Micah, me, Tarah, Anthony and their dog Romy), we set off to Lake Connor Park (a private camping/RV area in where our friends own a camping plot).

We had so much fun!!!  I’ll call it Camping Light.  We had the requisite camping elements: tent, fire, S’mores, hot dogs, more hot dogs, beer, and oh yeah…more hot dogs.  But this camping area also had indoor plumbing (YAY!), hot showers (where you did not need to feed it quarters), and even a…swimming pool. 

About those hot dogs… Each couple was assigned a different meal (smart, right?).  Well, nobody really communicated what they were bringing…so..tada!  HOT DOG central.  We even had them for breakfast one morning.  Our poor bodies were loaded with sodium and lips & a**holes (please, did somebody get this movie reference??!!)  On the bright side, I got to try a veggie dog (quite delish), and a number of spicy, cheese-filled varieties (also quite yummy).

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Don’t eat me.

And I must have missed the memo, but apparently S’mores have been inadequate for many people all these years.  Three people in the group brought the newest thing in S’mores…GIANT marshmallows. 

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Marshmallow on the left…yeah, a good three to four times the size of your typical marshmallow (on the right).  Picture credit: All in a Day’s Quirks

Seriously, these marshmallows were ridiculous!!!  One gigantor-size mallow is apparently designed to fill an entire graham cracker (because you know, it’s such a hassle splitting the graham in two). Smile

You might be shocked to know…I didn’t try these marshmallows.  I just couldn’t bring myself to eat them.  I’m more than perfectly happy with my good ol’ S’mores and didn’t feel like crazy amounts of gooey marshmallow dripping all over my face and fingers was something I needed to experience.  However, all my fellow campers were LOVING these bad boys (and didn’t care that crazy amounts of gooey marshmallow was dripping all over their faces and fingers)Luckily, someone else had brought the regular size marshmallows…that I thoroughly enjoyed!

We are planning another camping trip for later in the summer…no hot dogs allowed!  Well, maybe just one package. Smile

Spelling bee master…er…disaster

Our first real outing since returning to the U.S. – Art After Dark at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Every fourth Friday, the Honolulu Academy of Arts hosts a themed art party.  Ten bucks gets you into the party (where you can drink, eat, dance, and participate in the fun games and events) AND you can visit/tour all of the art galleries.  Pretty cool.  This month’s theme was “The Wonder Years” (think school –themed stuff)

Part of the super fun event included a spelling bee. 

Side note: I friggin’ love spelling.  When I was in elementary school, I participated in at least three or four spelling bees.  My best showing being 3rd grade, followed by 5th grade (let’s just forget about 4th grade). 🙂

When they were starting the spelling bee, there was only enough seats for five participants.  And you had to play rock, paper, scissor to “win” one of the coveted spots.  Luckily for me, when the winners took their seats…there were only four seats taken.  Ah…one left!  And also lucky for me, I just happened to be sitting right by that empty seat.  The emcee, however, asked for volunteers – BOOM – tons of hands spring into the air.  But then he asked for someone who hadn’t been to Art After Dark before – BOOM – I emphatically say “me, me, me!  I just came back from Korea!”  (The emcee interpreted that as “I am FROM Korea” – so he chose me…and then announced to the crowd, “This is Lisa from Korea.”  Eh…no use correcting him since it got me a seat).  🙂

Look at how giddy I am.  Yay for S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G!!!

In usual spelling bee style, each person got a word, repeated the word, and then had to spell it correctly.  If s/he was incorrect – BUZZ – you got booted off the stage.  I was fifth in line.

Contestant #1:  He had to spell drunkenness.  BUZZ.  There are two n’s in the word.  Off you go.  (I knew how to spell this!)

Contestant #2:  She had to spell gonorrhea.  BUZZ.  She was all sorts of wrong on this word.  Off you go.  (I knew how to spell this!)

Contestant #3:  She had to spell chlamydiaDING DING.  She spelled this one correct.  (To be honest, I probably would have gotten this wrong.)

Contestant #4:  He had to spell facetious.  BUZZ.  This word is tricky, but he wasn’t close.  Off you go.  (I jump up and tell the emcee, “I know this word.  Let me spell it.”  DENIED.)

Finally…my turn:  The emcee says, “spell bougainvillea.”  I seriously think he was trying to end the game fast because that word is ridiculously hard. 

Sound it out, sound it out. 

Needless to say, I was incorrect…I was close, but I missed the “ea” at the ending.  Off I went.  😦

This flower crushed my spelling bee dreams!!!!

 

In case you are wondering what I could have won: the “chlamydia” winner got a free year membership to the Art Academy (about a $50 value).  But not much value to me since we don’t live in Hawaii. 

Our Australian adventure!

Ok, we are back in action.  The vacation was fun while it lasted, but we are back to work starting Tuesday.  There’s a lot to write about – but for now here are the Cliff’s Notes.  I’ll follow up with separate posts on some of the really fun things we did. 

In sickness and in health:  Our first day in Sydney and Micah is sick.  He started feeling sick on our 10 hour flight.  We took a shuttle to our hostel, but still had about three hours before we could check-in.  Perfect sightseeing time? Well, yes…for me. 

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Micah stayed back and slept in the lobby area.

Micah was in bed all day and night, but fortunately he was feeling better by the next morning.  This is when we did most of our Sydney city sightseeing (Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Botanical Gardens).

That night, we ate some Malaysian food for dinner and settled into our room.  In the early early morning, I started feeling REALLY sick.  Sparing all the horrible details…I was sick the entire night.  I barely slept a wink.  We were going to be climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a couple hours…and I was still chained to the bathroom.  I made Micah promise he would still go…as our tickets were purchased months ago and were non-refundable. 

Miraculously, my body came through (with the helps of some drugs Micah rushed out to get that morning).  We successfully did the Bridge Climb!  And then…pretty much spent the rest of that day back in our room.  My body was only willing to behave for a few short hours. 😦

Somehow managed to make it through the 2.5 hour climb…and with a smile.

Sadly, this was the only day we had time to go to Manly Island and Bondi Beach.  But instead…we stayed in watching many hours of Olympic coverage on TV and forcing myself to drink little sips of Gatorade.

For richer or poorer: We were warned when planning this trip that Australia is expensive, but we didn’t realize how true that was until we got there.  This has to be one of the most expensive countries to live in.  $3.00 for a regular bottle of water.  $2.50 for a candy bar.  $7 for a McDonald’s breakfast meal.  $15 for Covergirl Mascara.  $20 for a 6-pack of beer.  I think you get the point.  There wasn’t a single thing we did that didn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money

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Those two drinks cost $7.40 at the convenience store.

Food and transportation was where we spent the bulk of our money.  Lodging actually was reasonable (but that’s because we stayed in hostels, or budget hotel, and used credit card reward points for some places).  The “good” thing about both of us being so sick was that we didn’t have big appetites and could easily share meals and weren’t forced to eat fast food the whole time.  We managed to stay away from all fast food until the very last day (the exception being McDonald’s soft serve ice cream cones – those were a steal at $.50 each.  I ate one or two many of the days.  Mmmmmm).

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Burger King to us, Hungry Jack’s to Aussie’s. 

Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane all had fairly decent public transportation – but, it isn’t cheap.  To get from the airport into the city was at least $15 to $20 a person – one way.  We walked or took free trams when we could.  One time, we had to take a cab…for a 10 minute drive to the airport it was $30.  The ferry ride to Moreton Island was $70 each…roundtrip at least.

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The free tram in Melbourne.  We took advantage of this many times.

Fortunately, we could use our credit card at many places.  Our Capital One card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees, and with the  US/AUS exchange rate, it’s in our favor.  🙂

We also tried to be resourceful when we could.  The tap water is safe to drink, so we continually refilled our water bottles.  We purchased granola bars and fruit, saving our money to buy the pricey dinners. 

For better or worse:  I was REALLY excited to eat all the foods.  But, Australia doesn’t really have it’s own unique cuisine.  Everywhere we went, we had a plethora of Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and bar food.  Nothing really that new to us.  We tried when possible to seek out the unique foods – for example, kangaroo and emu pizza (which was delicious). 

In Melbourne, we went to Chinatown and ate at Dainty Szechuan (a restaurant I’ve read rave reviews about).  We were sorely disappointed.  The two (expensive) dishes we got were way too salty, and we ended up leaving with tons of food left and no desire to take it home with us.  😦

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Looks really good, but tasted so so salty.  😦

When in Sydney, we took two tours…and they were both really great.  We got to see a lot of sights, sample many many wines, and hang out with the koalas and roos.  That was money and time well spent.

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Yes, they really are THAT cute. 

We stayed in Melbourne for 3.5 days and that was probably 2 days longer than we needed.  The central downtown area of the city is quite small and not a lot to see.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful city with beautiful architecture and friendly people.  The Queen Victoria Market is awesome.  But overall, it doesn’t have the attractions like Sydney does (which I’m sure the Melbournians are proud of). We actually got bored.  We would take our lunches to the park and lounge around (napping even) for a couple hours (which was great).  We were anxious to leave and move on though.  However, we did have fun browsing around Melbourne Costco and Target (two of our favorite stores in the states…and abroad!)

SAM_0912Lounging at many of the nice parks in Melbourne…and snacking too! 

The best part of our adventure was Moreton Island.  It’s off the coast of Brisbane. It’s the third largest island in the world made entirely of sand.  We stayed at the Tangalooma Island Resort – and it was fabulous!  The highlight was being able to feed the wild dolphins that come to visit the island every night.  Working on the video of that…cameras weren’t allowed up close to the dolphins.

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A 75 minute ferry ride is all it takes to get to this amazing piece of paradise.

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We basically had our own private beach – as there weren’t a lot of people around.  It was THE best beach we’ve ever been to.

As stated earlier, I’ll write more about some of the experiences we had – but for now, that gives you a good glimpse of our time in the land down under. 

Off to see the wonderful land of ‘Oz’

Today is the day!  At 8pm tonight, we will be on a plane…and 10 hours later, we’ll be landing in Sydney, Australia!  We couldn’t be more excited.  Excluding the days it takes to get to and from Australia, we have 12 full days to explore, experience, and EAT!

Here’s where we’ll be:

  1. Sydney: 5 days and then fly to…
  2. Melbourne: 3.5 days and then fly to…
  3. Brisbane: .5 days and then take a ferry to…
  4. Moreton Island: 2.5 days and then take a ferry back to Brisbane and then fly to…
  5. Sydney: stay overnight and fly to…
  6. Seoul

We plan to see/pet some kangaroos and koalas, take a wine tour, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit the Blue Mountains, relax on the beaches, do lots of walking tours, and of course…lots of EATING!

We are especially lucky because Chinese New Year falls on Sunday, which is when we arrive…which is also Valentine’s Day.  Sydney’s Chinatown is known to have some pretty amazing festivities and an awesome parade.  We are definitely going to check it out.

A special thanks to our friend Jodie for helping us with our Aussie travel plans!

Summer down under!

We’ve been toying with the idea of going to Australia for our 2 week winter vacation.  But we hadn’t been able to finalize when we could go because of English Camps.  (Basically, the kids come into school and study English during their winter vacation).  We know these “camps” will be in January sometime, but that’s all we know so far.

So instead of taking our vacation during January, we are going in February (during the school’s spring break).

Side note: Yes…the students come off of 5 weeks of winter vacation, come back to school for 1.5 weeks at the beginning of Feb., and then leave for two weeks of spring break.  And when they return, that’s the beginning of the new school year.  English Teachers don’t get all that time off though – only 2 weeks.

We did some research on flights, cities, things to do, etc. And made a rough itinerary.  We ran this by our friend Jodie, who is currently living in Sydney (but only until the end of December).  And that was it – we bought tickets last night!  Two weeks in Aussie!  It’ll be freezing in Daegu, but summer down under. 🙂

We are hitting up Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.  Technically, we fly into Brisbane, but are going to Moreton Island for a couple days.  We have a basic idea of what we want to do in each city: sightseeing, eating, beach, hiking, hold koala bears, etc. but nothing is finalized yet. We do know for sure we’ll be doing this in Sydney: http://www.bridgeclimb.com.au/  (Replace couple in photo with Micah and me :-))

Couple summit

To keep costs down, we are staying in hostels in every city (except Moreton Island). So, I’m currently researching those options.

I’d like to thank my friends Jessie and Allison for their inspiring pictures of their recent trips to Australia. 🙂

Allison meets a koala. by sparklingallison.

Maui lovin’ – had me a blast

Micah and I just spent two wonderful sun-filled days on Maui!  My first time to an outer-island.  I love Maui!

The island is more low key than Oahu.  And we finally got some sun…major sun.  And the flight from Honolulu to Kahului is 30 minutes.  Super quick flight. 

We picked up our rental car – it was supposed to be a compact car – but they were out of them…and instead, we were given a Ford Mustang Convertible.  Woo hoo!  We were ready for our island experience.

Thursday:

  • First, we headed to Haleakala National Park.  It’s basically a massive shield volcano that covers most of the island of Maui.  To get there, you drive up miles and miles of windy roads.  Seemed like we had driven for a long time, but had only made it about half way to the visitor center.  We still had a long ways to go – but I was starting to get dizzy and lightheaded due to the altitude change (about 8k feet at the visitor center).  We ended up only driving to a hiking trail – nowhere near the summit (which is 10k feet).  On our hike, it started to pour on us, so we cut it short.  On the way down, we saw some Nēnē (aka the Hawaiian Goose – the official state bird of Hawaii).

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  • Our hotel was in Kihei, so we drove there to check-in and headed straight for the beach.  We had our own private beach – literally.  There wasn’t a single person around – awesome.  We got some sun, surf, and then showered and headed to Lahaina (a very touristy area of Maui filled with shops, street vendors, and restaurants).    

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Friday:

  • Got up fairly early, and we went jogging along the beach.  Running isn’t so bad when you are barefoot and get to have your feet in the water.  :-)  We then decided to check out a different beach, Kamaole Beach Park (said to be one of the nicest beaches in Maui).  And it didn’t disappoint.  The sand was super soft and the water was clean.  But it definitely was not like our “private” beach experience the previous day – there were lots of people there. 
  • On a whim, I treated Micah to a massage!  Only his second one ever.  We happened to find a great spa at the Kaanapali Beach Resort – and they had an available appointment for a couples massage!  It was great.  Micah said after, “I could definitely do that more often.”  :-)  Cute.
  • After our relaxing massages, we decided to take the “scenic route” back to the airport.  Ha! To do that, you drive along miles and miles of a windy, one-lane, narrow road.  You had to go slow, and be on the lookout for other cars in case you needed to pull onto the “shoulder” (ha!) to let them through.  A little nerve-wracking, but an experience nonetheless.
  • Due to a slow shuttle taking us back to the airport, and broken kiosks at the airport (i.e we could not self check-in), we BARELY made our flight back to Oahu. 

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A very different experience than Oahu – and a great birthday. Thanks Micah!!!


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