In Photos | 10 Days in Hawaii

It has been 249 days since we returned home from Hawaii. I had really hoped to share a few photos from our trip long before now, but between almost losing my hard drive our second day on Oahu (Travel Tip: check the storage on your hard drive BEFORE lugging an almost full laptop over 4,500 miles on a possible once-in-a-lifetime vacation), taking 1,082 photos during our stay, and then attempting to sort through and edit those 1,082 photos on a painfully slow, limping computer... well, it just wasn't happening in any sort of timely manner. I'm happy to report that I've finally got all my technical difficulties worked out now and I'm starting to make a dent in processing the overwhelming backlog of images that have been sitting abandoned in my pictures folder for the last 8 months or so.   

I'm working on a few more detailed posts on what we did during our trip, but until then, here are a few of my favorite moments and photos from our time in Hawaii. Enjoy! And have a happy weekend!

VIEWS FROM THE TOP OF DIAMOND HEAD CRATER

NORTH SHORE OAHU | 'EHUKAI BEACH PARK + BANZAI PIPELINE + KUILIMA COVE

WAIKIKI BEACH + DIAMOND HEAD CRATER NATIONAL MONUMENT

MANOA FALLS WATERFALL + TRAIL

LANAI LOOKOUT

WAIMEA VALLEY WATERFALL + BOTANICAL GARDENS

 Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens Hibiscus | North Shore Oahu

Upcoming | Oahu, Hawaii

As I announced in my last post, in just a few short weeks (eek!), we will be on our way to the beautiful island of Oahu! Hawaii has always been at the top of our "Someday..." dream travel list, but we didn't realistically think we'd get there until much later down the road. And then, our youngest nephew started high school this fall and, along with the rest of the marching band, was invited to perform in a holiday parade IN HAWAII. And when the opportunity came along to turn his good fortune into a dream family vacation, IN HAWAII, we didn't hesitate to join in. So this year, instead of turkey and stuffing and football on Thanksgiving, we'll be eating ham and pineapple and dancing the hula! 

North Shore sunset, Oahu 2001

We're leaving for the island a few days following our 8th wedding anniversary, which makes this trip feel just a bit more special. We'll be joined by the rest of the fam the week after and even though we are super excited for all the fun family activities, it'll also be really nice to have some time on our own to celebrate. I've actually been to Oahu (and Maui) before— my family vacationed there the summer after I graduated high school— but this will be B's biggest trip yet. And for a guy who isn't a big fan of air travel? Well, getting there and back should be interesting! I've assured him the flight will pass quickly, and that once we arrive in Honolulu, he'll quickly see that it was 100% worth the 9+ mildly uncomfortable hours in the air. 

When I visited before, there were five os us traveling together— me, my mom, my sister, and grandparents— and since we were splitting our time between two islands, we took the more "touristy" route to see as many of the sights as possible. While I definitely don't want B to miss out on any must-see points of interest, I'm looking forward to staying put in one location for our entire 13-day stay so we can take our time and explore the lesser-known areas as well. We're especially excited to hit up a few of the many scenic hiking trails Oahu has to offer. 

Here's the part where I ask for your help! If you've recently been to or live in Oahu, I'd love to hear your suggestions! Do's and don'ts, must see's and must-eat's that might not be in my Lonely Planet guide, tips for hiking the island, transportation (we're not renting a car every day since we can get just about anywhere on TheBus), or how to help a grown man quickly conquer his fear of flying without drinking alltheliquor at 7AM? And if you have any insight on great activities and tips for handicap-accessible visitors, I would be extremely grateful for those, as my father-in-law will be joining us on this trip— how awesome is that?!

Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom kindly sent my way! Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

xo, Steve    

Christmas in the City

Hey, hey, it's Friday! I hope the first couple weeks of 2016 haven't been too rough on you... I'm still kinda trying to wrap my brain around the fact that the new year is in full swing already and have spent most of this month running around my house trying to get caught up with the post-holiday-I've-been-totally-slacking-on-my-shizznit-for-the-last-month crap that needs to be done before I can focus on anything else. Cleaning up and trying to get things back in order after Christmas is THE. WORST. But, the feeling that comes with clearing out all the seasonal decorations and other shtuff at the start of the year is like nothing else... Mostly, that feeling is EXHAUSTION because I am completely incapable of doing any sort of simple household task in January, such as putting away the five whole Christmas decorations I put out this year, without doing a major cleaning and reorganizing overhaul on the entire house. Okay, I'm laughing at myself for putting "in January" in that last sentence because I'm like that all year long... I have a bad track record of making bigger messes when I clean because I go to do something simple, like the dishes, and end up spending several hours emptying out and rearranging the pantry. I can't remember the last time I mopped the floor, but dang you should see how hyper-organized my junk drawer is! Just kidding... maybe.

Enough about 2016 already, and today let's take it WAY back to last year! Ok, well, way back to about four weeks ago anyways, with a little recap of my trip to visit Other Steve in NYC. Now, before you get too excited, let me just say that I have realized that I am a pretty sucky travel photographer and for some crazy reason, when I'm out and about, I completely neglect to take pictures. I only had my iPhone with me on this trip [and a little point and shoot I borrowed from my mom but never used], and it was so crazy crowded and hectic I found very few decent photo taking opportunities [photos of disembodied heads and hands errrrrrywhere!!]. Thankfully, Other Steve is quite the Snapchat Ninja, so I made her send me a few of her snaps so I could include them. I have also determined that I just need to go crash on Steve's couch for a few months so I can see and do and photograph all the things... Never mind. I just heard, "NOT happening" from B over my shoulder. Dangit. #partypooper

[I tried to cram all these photos in as neatly as I could, and some had to be cropped to fit the space— You can click on any photo to see it in it's proper uncropped size and orientation :) ]

My pretty little Essex House all decked out for the holidays and my cute little Steve 😍

A view! A view! I got a view of something other than a wall this time!

To sum up my trip in one word, I'd have to say CRAZYBUSY would be a perfect fit. We did so many things in such a short amount of time [and at a totally different time schedule than I'm used to] that I am not joking when I say I came home and slept for an entire day. I returned home early Monday evening and was completely out of commission all day Tuesday. My dogs were in heaven. To demonstrate just how CRAZYBUSY we were, I'd like to present to you a timeline of our activities. Ready? GO!

Arrive in NYC and check in to hotel > Grab a quick to go bite from bar next door > Winter choir concert #1 > concert reception > late night drinks and snacks > American Museum of Natural History > Shake Shack > opening premiere of Star Wars TFA in 3D > late night drinks and snacks at the Empire [haha] Hotel > The Strand Bookstore > quick bite at Pret a Manger > Alabaster Bookshop > Christmas display viewing on 5th Ave [with 50 billion other people] > Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree > quick dinner at Cafe Fiorello > NYCB Nutcracker > late night drinks and dessert > quick stop for pizza > Winter choir concert #2 > concert reception > Birthday/Holiday party > brunch at Alice's Tea Cup > bit of shoppingMacy's at Herald Square [with 50 billion other other people] > Christmas movies and coffee in hotel room while I packed > Arrive back in Atlanta > pass out.

Phew! That was exhausting just typing all that out. Most of the events we had planned took place in the evenings which meant that most nights, I didn't make it back to my hotel until well after midnight. For someone who has had a pretty consistent 7am-10pm [give or take] schedule for the last 15 years, it was a bit disorienting the first day or two. Especially since I've become a weirdo whose brain doesn't care what time I go to sleep, it's still going to wake me up before 8am. Thanks, brain... Nothing like running around New York on a whopping 4 hours of sleep, you jerk. Thankfully, the late night/late morning schedule is a bit more normal for Other Steve so, I had plenty of time earlier in the day to just chill out in my room and recuperate from the previous day's festivities until we met up for lunch/early dinner/next event.           

Hey, Bergdorf's... you cray. And I love you for it.

The tree! Thank you, random stranger for somehow managing to take this photo of us in the midst of all the chaos || The dorkiest dorks that ever dorked. Not much has changed since 4th grade...

I know this is getting painfully long, but here are a few of my favorite moments from my trip—

STEVE! Okay, this one is a given, but getting to hang out with my Steve was definitely the best part of my trip. I mean, she's the reason I went at all! Long-distance friendships can be kinda sucky at times, especially when you only get to see your BFF once a year. So honestly, we could've sat in my hotel room watching SNL reruns, laughing at stupidly hilarious photos on the internets, and drinking bad coffee for 5 days and I would've been absolutely THRILLED. This one's for you, Steve...

 via buzzfeed "When you're looking at your phone in bed and drop it on your face"

via buzzfeed
"When you're looking at your phone in bed and drop it on your face"

Getting to see/hear Steve sing for the first time since high school. On stage, that is... Not singing in the car or hotel room and not singing along to Beyonce or Adele, which happens every time I see her 😉 It was a beautiful performance and I really miss getting to experience classical music on a more regular basis. Also, finally getting to meet all her super-talented singing friends that I see all the time on Facebook. It makes me really happy to know she's made some really amazing friends in New York. 
[If you're in the NYC area and like choir music, check 'em out! Tapestry Choir website or Facebook ]

Quality time with Mr. Other Steve. Speaking of Steve's friends... It was great to finally get to hang out with her boyfriend [of about a million years who I've only met once before for about 15 minutes] before he headed off to spend Christmas with his family on the West Coast. I really enjoyed getting to know him a little better and while I know Steve is really happy and he seems like a great guy, I just have one major concern... The man has never set foot in a Waffle House!! But, I guess I can't totally write the guy off because doing so is pretty high on his bucket list... Like, he's dying to go there. And he was super-excited when I told him we have not just one, but THREE Wa-Ho's within a 10 minute drive of our house— two of those less than a mile apart from each other [I'm not kidding. One is on the north side of the interstate overpass, the other on the south side. And yes, we have a favorite, lol]. I hope they plan a trip to Atlanta sometime soon, so we can help him achieve that goal. I think he and B would get along really well! ...Oh crap, I guess that makes TWO major concerns 😉    

Crazy coffee eyes || A doll underneath the glass in our table? Oh, no, that's not creepy AT ALL.

Star Wars! Okay, I'm gonna confess— prior to seeing The Force Awakens, I wasn't exactly what you  might call a "fan" of the series. I hadn't even really seen the original film in it's entirety before. Bits and pieces, here and there, but never beginning to end in one sitting [I. KNOW.] But, when Steve got a text saying one of their friends had to cancel at the last minute and offered me their 4th ticket, I figured, sure why not? They had purchased their passes before I scheduled my trip, so I had just planned on seeing something else that was playing around the same time and then meeting back up later. I'm sorry their friend missed out, but that was easily the most fun I've had and that I've seen other people have at a movie. There were people dressed up [although, not as many as we'd hoped to see], people having lightsaber fights on the sidewalk, cheering and clapping and disappointed booing during the show... what a great experience! Since B received the entire collection on Blu-Ray for Christmas, we're currently working our way through the series so I can have a better understanding of what's going on, and I'm quickly becoming a big fan. The best part is, I get to rub it in his face that I saw the very first opening show, in NYC, in 3D, in the biggest IMAX theatre in the country! Guess you shoulda gone with me, sucka!! 

Favorite window display at Macy's 😍

New York City Ballet's Nutcracker. As a young dancer, I participated in one of the local productions of the Nutcracker for 10 straight years. It became a tradition of sorts around the holidays and growing up, I always dreamed of seeing it performed by one of the top professional ballet companies. Over a decade since my last curtain call and I can finally check that one off the bucket list. NYCB does a slightly different version of the one I'm familiar with, and it was wonderful... It was so interesting to see the different choreography and subtle changes in the story. It never officially feels like Christmas until I hear that opening overture.

Gosh, I could go on and on and on... There's so much more I'd like to share about my trip, but I guess I should probably wrap this up. Maybe I should've given each day it's own post! Haha, can you imagine how many weeks THAT would've taken me to put together?! Oh geez... Anywho, I hope the rest of your week is just lovely and as always, thank you so much for stopping by! 

The "Leaning Tower of Christmas Tree-za" that welcomed me back to Georgia.
Good job, Hartsfield-Jackson... GOOD JOB.

xo, Steve