Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

I arrived home from vacation the day before the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta started, so rather than coming straight home, my family met me in Albuquerque, where we spent the night. We wanted to make sure we were at the park in time for the morning balloon glow. So at 3am we climbed out of bed and made our way over to Balloon Fiesta Park. I had gone to the Fiesta back when I was in grade school, but I do not remember it. I do, however, think that it had some lasting effect on me, though, because I have loved hot air balloons for as long as I can remember. So this was our chance, not only for me to refresh my memory, but to also share it with my family for the very first time.

And it was amazing! Absolutely. Amazing.

PS – No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to stop taking pictures of balloons when you are surrounded by them!

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Hawaii!! – Part Two

Aloha! Ready for Part Two? Here we go!

On Saturday we went to the Maui Ocean Center. For being a small aquarium, they had a lot of little fishes and sea creatures and turtles. The manta rays had to be among my favorites. They had about five of them and I do not think I had ever had the opportunity to see the underside of one before. As we walked through the tunnel, they would swim right over us!

Our next big adventure was snorkeling at Molokini Crater. There is something slightly intimidating about sticking your face in the ocean… on purpose… but once my face went in, I did not want to take it out! It was amazing! There were little fishes everywhere! I definitely preferred being in the water to being on the boat. Unfortunately, the water was a little rough that day, so the boat ride was a little rough, but we all made it through without feeding the fishes, so I think it was a success!

There were a lot of tide pools around our condo, so in the evening we would walk around to see what we could find. There were many little fish and crabs and urchins. Mom loves looking for shells and coral, and she found some beautiful ones on this trip! Of course while we were down playing in the tide pools, it was always a perfect opportunity to watch the sunset, which we did every night while we were there. I do not think one could possibly tire of watching the sun set over such a beautiful ocean.

Jessica had mentioned some time ago that we should all get matching tattoos while we were in Hawaii. Much to my surprise, Mom agreed to it. So did I, although I must confess that I had thought they would forget. Or change their minds. They didn’t. So on our final day in Maui, we marched our little selves over to Pacific Rootz and got ourselves a permanent souvenir. We all have the same design, but Mom wanted some Polynesian accents with hers, and Jessica wanted hers a little bigger with some vines. I was the only one too chicken to add on, so mine is just the original pattern. So now we all have matching tattoos, all the same, and all just a little bit different.

I suppose no vacation can last forever, though, and eventually it was time to come back home. Not before one last sunset picture from the balcony of our amazing condo…

Love

Love

Two and a half years of planning a vacation that I was convinced would never actually get here, and now, not only has it come, but it has also gone. And I loved every single minute of it. It has left me with memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

So to my dad, I know a simple thank you will never be enough, but thank you, thank you, thank you so much for the most amazing vacation with Mom and Jessica. Thank you for all the wonderful opportunities and experiences. I do not think you will ever know how much I love and appreciate you. Mom and Jessica, you two are so amazing! I am so glad we were able to spend such an incredible week together. Mom, thank you so much for wanting us along on this trip with you. You could have gone with anyone, and it makes me feel so incredibly special that you chose us. I love you all so very much!

Mom and Jessica

Mom and Jessica

Hawaii!! – Part One

About two and a half years ago, my sister and I were presented with special bracelets from our parents. My dad was sending us on a trip to Hawaii with our mom! Mom had been to Hawaii many times, but she wanted to be able to share it with us as well, and this was to be our first mother/daughters get-away ever!

Surprise!

Surprise!

Of course, at the time, two and half years seemed like a long way off, but we had a lot of things to arrange. Rob and I were still in PA at the time and had no idea where we would find ourselves in two and a half years. My sister had to plan for the time off work. Not to mention both husbands would have to be able to take over home and kid duties for a while. Somehow, all the pieces fell into place, and before we knew it, we were on a plane bound for Maui!

We spent eight days and seven nights there, and we did something different every day! The first full day we were there, we went to Lahaina for some shopping and sight-seeing. While there, we found a shop that had every name you could possibly imagine on a bracelet! For those who can easily find their names, this may not seem like a big deal, but for those of us who can rarely find our names spelled correctly, it was really exciting! We not only found Caryn and Mariah, but they also had Catheryn and Trinity! Lahaina is a cute little town, full of attractive shops, good restaurants, and the oldest banyan tree in the United States!

Next up was zip-lining, which was a blast! I must admit that it was slightly scary at times, as I am not normally one to throw myself off a perfectly good platform in order to zip my way over canyons and such, but what an experience! There were five zips total, with the last one being the mort terrifying. It was so much fun that we did not even care that it was raining! Since we were already headed in that direction, we ventured up to Haleakala National Park next. You climb from sea level to 10,032 feet in 37 miles! It is one of the fastest elevation gains in the shortest distance in the world! And also very twisty, so you might want to watch the road if you are prone to motion sickness. 🙂

Let’s see, what next? The Luau! The Old Lahaina Luau is one of the most traditional Luaus. I had never eaten pork cooked underground before! The feast was amazing, the dancing even more so. An experience that will never be forgotten!

We got up bright and early the next morning to catch our flight to Oahu. Once we arrived, our tour guide picked us up and took us to Pearl Harbor. This was a surprise from our parents, something that was not part of the original trip. Pearl Harbor is a must see, and I am so glad we were able to go. All the pictures and videos you ever see will never prepare you for what it feels like to be there in person. I cannot even begin to explain how it felt to stand out on that memorial, knowing what lay beneath…

We spent most of the day at Pearl Harbor, but we still had time for a tour of Honolulu before heading back to the airport to catch our flight. We had about an hour to get off the bus at Waikiki Beach. We were all so hungry that most of our time was spent in Burger King, but we still had time to walk down to the beach. I was so amazed at how many people were there! Our beach in Kihei was so quiet, especially compared to the famous Waikiki.

I think this is a good place to end Part One of ‘Hawaii!!’ Stay tuned for Part Two! Mahalo!