Thursday Thoughts #18

Thursday Thoughts

This move to California was our second real military move. (Our first from Auburn to FL hardly counts as we had very little inventory to relocate and the distance was only 200 miles.) You can read about our move to Ohio here.

We left a small home in Ohio and were expecting something even smaller out in the Los Angeles area. In preparation for that we gave some of our furniture to my brother-in-law who just purchased a home with his fiancé, and my in-laws were more than generous in offering to store some other items until we return to the East coast. I begrudgingly left the majority of my fabric, quilting and scrapbooking supplies, and Monopoly collection behind with them. Stuart and I had many conversations about the “must-haves” in a new home and a third bedroom for an office/craft space was simply a “nice-to-have” as my free time with two little ones is quite limited and this blog is my hobby priority number one.

Unlike the previous move, this one was not a “door-to-door” move, meaning we did not have a destination address. With two boys under two and a husband in a grueling Masters program there simply wasn’t any time to take a trip to California to house hunt ahead of time. So, we booked a stay in Temporary Housing and used the 8 days provided upon reporting to find a place to live. As a result, we knew our items would end up being held in a storage facility until we could provide the moving company with our final address.

The moving company we were assigned to this move was incredible. A crew of three guys came the Monday after Easter to pack up everything. They were punctual, friendly, patient, and very courteous. They worked quickly and efficiently and while the team lead was inventorying every box, the other guys started to move everything into the garage to make loading day go smoothly. The same crew returned the following day to disassemble furniture, and along with the driver load the moving truck. We provided Subway for lunch on day one and tipped them on day two. Having the same crew for both days really helped things go smoothly.

We had a bedroom marked off as a “do not pack” room containing anything and everything that would be traveling across the country in the van. My parents came to attend Stuart’s graduation and while here, they helped us pack the other vehicle before the movers arrived. That car was loaded down with my grandmother’s antique secretary desk, quilts, and scrapbooks, along with all important documentation.

When there are young children involved, I highly recommend dropping them off with a friend while the movers are packing your home. Unfortunately that wasn’t an available option for us, but luckily my mom planned to stay and help us with the cross country drive. My mom and I were able to keep the boys occupied in the “do not pack” room and run errands. We handled the weighing of the van and returning of cable equipment to keep out of the way while my husband stayed at the house. We also handled the lunch pick-up and delivery.

That same piece of advice is even more important when the movers are unloading your belongings into your new home. This time we had my mother-in-law who flew out to California to help. She was able to keep Firecracker out of the house and at the park almost the entire day! I was able to wear Treat during his nap and keep him more easily contained as he was much less mobile. 

While our delivery crew didn’t start out as personable as our packing crew, they were quite competent and earned both the taco lunch and a tip for having to deal with our inconvenient location and countless stairs.

Because my mother-in-law stayed for the first week in our new place, I was able unpack our boxes myself instead of allowing the movers to do it. I had learned from our previous experience, when the movers unpack the boxes they essentially dump everything out on the floor, which I knew wouldn’t work well with two curious boys. There were a few exceptions to what we had them unpack – we wanted them to open up all of our wedding china and stemware and art boxes to ensure they weren’t damaged during delivery.

Unfortunately, a few boxes didn’t make it all the way to California including our bin of snowboarding gear and one box of our wedding stemware. At first inspection my husband’s weight plates didn’t make it either, but the team lead called the storage facility and they were found. He returned the next day with the weights and took away all of the boxes and packing paper that we had gotten through on that first night, which was over half of them!

One bookshelf, a desk, and our Keurig ended up in the “RIP” category.

Overall I am happy with our moving experience.

We moved many essential things ourselves because of the length of our trip and the unknown amount of time we’d be living in a hotel. Here are some of the things I wish we had added to our long list: vacuum cleaner, tape measure, scissors and/or exacto knife.

I’m going to reiterate: The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone moving with children – get help! My mom helped us get out of Ohio and traveled with us all the way to California. Having a third set of hands was invaluable. My mother-in-law was able to fly out to California the week of our delivery and she was able to take Firecracker to the park and on walks while the movers were unloading the truck. My sister-in-law came down the day after delivery and was a huge help with both boys keeping them entertained while we did a lot of unpacking and organizing of our home. She and my mother-in-law were able to share the brunt of the kids’ energy, too. If they weren’t able to provide so much help I know that I’d still be living in a house of brown cardboard boxes over one month later. I look forward to their next visits when things aren’t quite as hectic and more valuable time can be spent with them. I know their presence was much appreciated by the boys too, if their behavior after their departure is any indication!

Tuesday Tattles: Road Trip Edition

Tuesday Tattles

Now that we are almost settled in California I figure it’s as good a time as any to share my newly acquired wisdom on a long road trip with little ones!

Tip number 1: get a minivan.

Only joking, except that we absolutely love ours and it definitely makes road trip driving (and everyday) driving a little easier. The amount of floor space and storage space we had was impressive!

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Taking a road trip is definitely easier than flying when babies are involved. But it’s not exactly a walk in the park either. Not having a limit on items and liquids makes life so much better, not to mention you don’t have to have a squirming baby on your lap giving you busted lips and black eyes.

Here’s a list of some of the items that made our 5-day drive go relatively smoothly:

Car Seat Toys

I put two car seat toys on rings for Treat to stare at and occasionally grab. The links
prevented him from accidentally throwing them out of his car seat. Mr. Turtle and Freckles are now well loved car companions. (Those names were given by me during an attempt to cheer him up.)

Zeta the Zebra Teething Toy

Firecracker had the classic Sophie the Giraffe teething toy so to prevent any confusion Treat gets a different version. (Granted, Sophie has been lost for almost a year now.)

Disposable Bed Mats

Now here’s an item you probably didn’t expect to see on this list! Treat is the king of diaper blowouts and I wasn’t about to worry about needing to wash the car seat cover in the middle of nowhere. I simply folded up one of these (cutting one in half to fold would be even better!) under his bum for the trip. Really, I should maintain this practice until he starts solid foods…

Diapers and Wipes

I simply kept a jumbo diaper box and filled it with diapers for each the kids as well as a tub of wipes (with refills) on the floor in the backseat for easy access.

Hand Sanitizing Wipes

When gas stations and public rest area restrooms are the main stops it’s highly recommended to have an easy way to clean both adult hands and children hands.

Mirrors

If you don’t already use mirrors for the kiddos during day-to-day travel, you’ll definitely want them for a long road trip. It’s always good to know if they’re asleep and/or starting to stir when planning driving breaks.

Media Station

Unless your vehicle is equipped with rear entertainment, you can easily create your own set up. We got a $5 universal tablet holder and hooked it up to the middle seat headrest. The holder is intended for the back of headrests but as my kids are still rear facing our method worked just fine! We downloaded a season of  Wallykazam and turned it on in moments of great need. Surprisingly Firecracker didn’t acknowledge its addition to the backseat for a long time so we didn’t need to use it until halfway through our trip.

For the adults, books on CD to help with the 40-odd hours of driving. My choice: the whole Harry Potter series! We got through all of books 1 and 2 and more than half of book 3! I am now continuing listening to the series to make LA traffic much more bearable.

Box of Books and Toys

I knew we couldn’t let the movers pack up all of the toys so I kept a bin of the absolute favorites for Firecracker to grab and play with as desired. Of course all the trains made the cut as did Scout, phone, and laptop. I kept some books out for hotel nights, too, mostly those that are bedtime appropriate.

Food

A small cooler of food was definitely a blessing on a long trip. I was able to keep cheese and fruit as well as ingredients for countless PB&Js. Snacks for the adults was also necessary for long stretches of driving. And water! Just don’t forget some silverware, baggies, and cups.

Cereal Storage Box

I can’t take credit for this one. I saw this tip on Pinterest many years ago and have kept a bin (and plastic shopping bags) in my car ever since as a vehicular garbage can. It’s great for tissues, food wrappers, and receipts. I suggest keeping soiled diapers in a deodorized bag though if you can’t toss them elsewhere right away. (Yes, we made a highly necessary diaper and outfit change in the middle of nowhere. Only once though!)

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Coming soon will be more details as well as tips and lessons learned for getting through another military move.

Dislclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday Thoughts #15

Thursday Thoughts

As some of you may know, we have left Ohio for California! We spent a year and a half in the Dayton area while my husband earned his Masters degree.

Here are some of our favorite {kid-friendly} things to do in SW Ohio.

Next week, I’ll share some of our favorite food destinations.

EnterTRAINmentJunction

If you have any kids who love trains, or you’re an adult who loves model trains, this attraction is a must-see. With more than 2 miles of track in a 25,000 sqft space, this display is the largest model train display in the world! And it’s impressive. The path takes you through the history of train usage beginning with pre-Civil War and going all the way to modern times. There’s even a second floor loft area displaying Coney Island and providing an overhead view of the exhibit. They have scavenger hunts set up throughout the displays, too. Supposedly 10 dinosaurs are placed amongst the scenery, but in two trips we’ve only spotted 7. There’s also a large indoor play area which makes the trip ideal when the weather is cold and rainy. Two outdoor rides that are available Memorial Day thru Labor Day which we didn’t get a chance to experience. Another attraction we didn’t explore is the A-Maze-N Funhouse geared toward older kids.

EnterTRAINment Junction is located halfway between Dayton and Cincinnati on I-675 in West Chester, OH.

National Museum of the USAF

A great, free family destination is the National Museum of the Air Force. The meuseum is located in Dayton, OH. You should note that this museum is massive and it would be near impossible to see everything. If you have a longer trip to the Dayton area I’d suggest only one or two exhibits at a time. It’s a good place to “get your steps” on a cold day, too. During the week it’s not very busy and easier to let the little ones walk around a little more freely.

Young’s Jersey Dairy

Young’s Dairy in Yellow Springs, OH is a fun place to go on beautiful days. They have seasonal activities all year round. In the Winter you can cut your own Christmas trees, there’s an annual Easter Egg Hunt in the Spring, a vintage car show in the Summer, and pumpkin picking in the Fall. We’ve only ever gone to the Dairy in the Fall. There’s a miniature golf course on the property, too! In the evenings you can watch them milking the cows, an event I regret not seeing. During the day though you can pet and feed the goats, and whatever cows are around.

The food at Young’s is good, too. The buffalo cheddar cheese curds are quite delicious and their ice cream alone is worth a trip to the dairy.

Fruit Picking

At the end of the summer, we went berry picking at the Homestead Berry Farm. Firecracker was only 25 months old at the time and he loved running down the aisles of berry bushes and picking raspberries right off the bush! He’d not tried raspberries prior to that outing, despite my trying; now, they’re still one of his favorites! (Though, I don’t think anything will top blueberries.) We filled up a pint of fresh picked raspberries and one pint of fresh picked blackberries. My husband did the blackberry picking while I kept Firecracker away from those prickly bushes, he said it was fun searching for the treasure of the blackberries which grew hidden among the leaves. We also bought a jar of blackberry jam which was delicious on toast.

In the fall, my mom and I went apple picking at Monnin’s Fruit Farm. Once again, my son voluntarily took a bite of an apple that he himself plucked. It’s too bad apples didn’t have the same staying power as the raspberries did. We picked a half-bushel and split the bounty. So many apples! I used some of them in my favorite waffle recipe to date – Apple Pie Waffles.

Zoos

The zoo is always a winner with little ones and we were located right in the middle of two great options: The Cincinatti Zoo and The Columbus Zoo. Both are about an hour drive from Dayton. We explored both zoos while in the Dayton area. While our personal favorite was the Columbus Zoo, I don’t have any bad things to say regarding the Cincinatti Zoo. The Columbus Zoo has a small aquarium on premises and a water park (which we didn’t get to explore, to my husband’s disappointment). General Admission to the Cincinatti Zoo runs at $16, for the Columbus Zoo $19.99. Parking at both attractions is $10. My suggestion for any zoo trip is to go on a less than perfect weather day. Our best animal viewing occurred on a slightly cool, cloudy day with a threat of rain. When it’s not hot the animals are active and the crowds aren’t overpowering either!


Tuesday Tattles: Flying Edition

Tuesday Tattles

Today’s Tuesday Tattles isn’t to celebrate another milestone (for the record, my son is half a year and ten days old). I’ll combine his 6 month favorites with his 7 month favorites in February.

20141221_123417Today’s Tuesday Tattles is to give a little personal experience on flying with a little one with some tips and lessons learned on getting through the airport, too.

For Christmas we left cold and gray Ohio for the warmth and sunshine of South Florida. My in-laws also traveled from dreary Northern Alabama to celebrate in their grandson’s first Christmas. It was a most wonderful holiday!

We were able to book a direct flight at the expense of driving an extra hour to the airport. Believe me when I say – if you can do this, DO IT! Not having to worry about traveling through another airport to make a connecting flight while changing diapers or feeding eased my stress. All I had to worry about packing in my diaper bag were enough diapers for the flight length, a blanket in case it were cold on the plane, a change of clothes, burp rags and bib, and a couple of toys to chew/suck on. Essentially, the things I schlep along with me every day.

To prepare for security I put my Hand Sanitizer and Infant’s Tylenol in one resealable bag and Petroleum Jelly and Butt Paste in another. My second carry-on item was my Breast Pump bag. In that bag I had only one set of pump parts to ease up on space, 2 bottles (one empty and one with milk), 2 Pump and Save Breast Milk Bags per vacation day, the charger for the pumping unit, and the cooler and ice pack that came with my pump. It is important that the ice pack be completely frozen when you go through security, so don’t pack it until you’re ready to walk out the door! Breast milk and formula are not limited to the 3.4oz volume restriction, but they will do a quick scan on the bottles/bags for anything over the amount. Don’t worry, they will not open the bottles or contaminate them! And if it’s completely frozen you can get thru the security check point with ease. For information on what you can and can’t take thru security check the TSA website before you fly. (They even have a nifty kids page!)

IMG_3412I had always heard that traveling with kids is difficult. Now, it’s certainly not a walk in the park, but with the TSA precheck lines, it’s easier than it used to be. Because we were traveling with an infant we were allowed access to this line. (I can’t speak to whether or not this is a rule, but my observation and experience indicated that it might be!) In the precheck line we didn’t have to unpack our liquids (unless it was more than 3.4oz), take off our shoes or coats, remove computers from bags, or even empty our pockets. I was able to walk through the metal detector carrying my son while the stroller and car seat went on the x-ray conveyor belt.

When in the airport take advantage of family/companion restrooms. If you can’t find them don’t be shy about changing your child’s diaper on the floor or in the stroller at your gate. I would suggest a diaper change as close to boarding the plane as you can.

You will be provided a gate-check tag for the car seat and stroller when you get to the gate. Leave those items by the loading door, you’ll pick them up there when you deplane at your destination. (Another great reason for a direct flight, depending on how quickly you can get off the plane, you might be waiting for your things.) Our stroller had a cup holder before our vacation. It did not have one after our vacation. My piece of advice: remove any extras before you gate check it! Also, don’t forget to buckle the car seat straps.

I encourage you to take advantage of pre-boarding. With an infant in arms and bags hanging off each shoulder it’s nice to board an empty plane. It prevents any embarrassment if your diaper bag strap gets caught on an armrest and you don’t have to worry about accidentally whacking someone in the face with a child’s foot. Not to mention you can avoid all of those strangers’ looks of fear, anger, and sympathy. And you only have to answer the question, “How old is he?” once – to the flight attendant.

While some airplanes have changing stations in their bathrooms it’s simply easier to do that in-flight diaper change on your lap or in your seat. On our flight to FL we were lucky enough to have a row of three seats to ourselves and could allow our son to play in the seat between us.

IMG_3240If your child isn’t asleep during take-off I encourage you to feed him. If he’s simply not hungry make sure he has a pacifier to suck on or a teething toy to chew on. I repeat the same piece of advice for landing, but beware if you’re breast-feeding that the landing might startle him into biting.

And my last piece of advice – pay the checked bag fee. Particularly if you have a connecting flight. It would not have been fun dealing with rollerboards through an airport and a stroller. Not to mention you still only get two carry-on bags!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Corn Pepper Salsa Chicken Quesadilla

It amuses me to say that the best quesadilla I ever had was in Hawaii, and it’s even stranger to tell you that that quesadilla was had in the Honolulu airport (at Stinger Ray’s)!

For Mexican Monday I decided to attempt a recreation of this quesadilla. What I loved most about it was a back note of lime and the inclusion of corn in the filling. I didn’t succeed in a perfect copy cat recipe with my first attempt, but it was fun to do more with a quesadilla than stuff it with leftovers!

I marinated the chicken with chipotle and lime, sliced it and cooked it fajita style for extra flavor. I then sauteed the corn, onion, and pepper salsa with chili powder in the same skillet. For a kiss of heat I sliced open a serrano pepper (which Stuart purposefully ate!).

I actually prepared extra chicken and made rice to take to lunch the next day.

Saute Chicken 1Saute Chicken 2Saute Chicken 3Saute Salsa 1Saute Salsa 2Saute Salsa 3Assemble Quesadilla 1Assemble Quesadilla 2Assemble Quesadilla 3

An Original Recipe

Corn Pepper Salsa Chicken Quesadilla

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp corriander
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced chipotle pepper in adobo
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1 C frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 C diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, halved
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 2 C shredded Mexican cheese

Steps:

  1. Combine lime, corriander, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, chipotle, S+P, and olive oil. Marinate chicken at least 4 hours.
  2. Slice chicken. Saute chicken over medium-high heat in a large skillet in olive oil until cooked through.
  3. In the same skillet, cook the remaining ingredients. Deglaze the pan with a splash of chicken stock if desired.
  4. In a separate non-stick skillet, place tortilla and cover entire surface with cheese. On one half top with chicken and salsa. Fold the cheese-only half over the chicken. Flip until both sides are lightly golden and crispy. Serve with your favorite salsa and sour cream.

Corn Pepper Salsa Chicken Quesadilla

Hawaii: The Big Island: Kona Coast

After every trip, my father would always ask, “What was your favorite part?” It’s never an easy question to answer.  I cheated in my response after this vacation… I have a favorite activity and a favorite experience.

My favorite activity of the trip was kayaking. My travel book, Lonely Planet Hawaii: The Big Island (Regional Travel Guide), offered many options for kayak rentals and great locations to put the kayak into the water. However, I was not confident enough to trust the two of us a “divorce boat” without the experience of a tour guide. (My favorite experience will be told later… stay tuned!)

In South Kona, we booked a morning tour from Aloha Kayak Company. They have two kayaking/snorkeling tours – a 3.5hr Keauhou Sea Cave & Cliff Jumping and a 3.5hr Kealakekua Dolphin Kayak. The latter is their most popular that lands near the Captain Cook monument, and has a high probability of dolphin sightings. We opted for the Sea Caves tour, it has less snorkeling but I am always awed by the power of waves splashing against the rocky coastline and was excited to experience it from the ocean perspective. Stuart and I were the only two booked on the tour!

We were surprised and privileged to see a pod of dolphins swim directly towards us! We lifted our paddles and just watched them – tails slapping the surface, noses and blowholes emerging from below. Our guide, Nick, said that dolphins in that area are very rare. Unfortunately we forgot the GoPro at home so weren’t able to capture the moment on “film”, but Stuart says that it’s an image he will never forget.

After it was safe to paddle again we made our way to the first sea cave. We pivoted the kayaks and backed into the mouth of the cave. The caves are much smaller than I’d imagined them to be. There was only room for us and Nick. (On a larger tour group kayakers take turns in the cave) We sat in the cave for about five minutes, combating the waves with our paddles, feeling the swell of the ocean, and hearing the crash of water against rock echo around us… until a strong wave pulled us out into open water! The second cave we backed into had a small lava tube running to a neighboring cave and we could see the light bouncing off the walls – I took a photo of it with a cell phone, but it’s impossible to decipher what it is.

Sea Cave

We then anchored the kayaks and Stuart and Nick took to cliff jumping. They climbed the rock face above the cave we were just in and jumped into the crystal blue waters below. I enjoyed the comfort of the kayak and videoed the jumps with the cell phone. I took in the beautiful scenery around me and basked in the perfect weather.

Cliff Jumping

Kayak Kona

Snorkeling was next on the agenda. The waters are so clear that snorkeling along the Kona Coast is good anywhere. Stuart spotted an eel snaking its way along the bottom of the ocean and I floated there watching the large fish slink in and out of the rocks.

We hit a black sand beach in North Kona – Kiholo Bay.  The sand wasn’t as black as I was expecting it to be, it was just slightly darker than dirt. But the weather was perfect and the views spectacular. The waters were a little too rough and the rocks pretty sharp for snorkeling. According to Lonely Planet this beach is good for sporting turtles when the tide is out because they come to feed on the abundant seaweed – we must’ve been there during high tide.

Kiholo Bay

Greenwell FarmsStuart is a big coffee drinker so we had to take a tour of a coffee plantation. Hawaii is the only US State that grows it’s own coffee, and the volcanic soil is what makes Kona Coffee award winning. We went to one of the oldest coffee plantations on the island – Greenwell Farms. I’ve never claimed to know anything about coffee, but there was so much that I wasn’t aware that I didn’t know! The coffee plant is related to the gardenia (my favorite flower)! There are two coffee beans in each coffee berry. Coffee berries are picked when they turn cherry red. Coffee farmers get paid by the pound, $1.60/lb, of coffee cherries – and in Kona everything is hand picked!

Things to do on our next trip (aka things we didn’t have time for but wanted to see)

  • St. Benedict’s Painted Church; 85-5140 Painted Church Rd. Father John Berchmans Velghe painted the walls of his church with scenes from the Bible in an effort to convert the native people to Catholocism. They have services in Hawaiian on the 2nd Sunday of every month.

Travel: Hawaii

For the next week or so Sew You Think You Can Cook will be transformed into a travel blog! Get excited – I know I am! The last week in August, Stuart and I travelled to The Big Island to celebrate my 25th birthday. I will be sharing our pictures and adventures with you – providing opinions on activities, restaurants, and more.

This specific post will be an overview of our trip – where we went, what we did, what we’d change. The following posts will more specific to location.

Disclaimer: All posts in this series and all mentions to companies are my personal opinion and I am in no way being paid or sponsored.

Travel

In February we started to plan (okay, day-dream about) my birthday vacation. I wanted to go somewhere/do something fun for the big two-five. For Stuart’s we had gone snowboarding in Colorado for a week (Jan 2012). The idea for Hawaii came to me because The Weather Channel had a slide show of volcano/lava photos.

So I started my research.

Photography by Stuart Everson
Photography by Stuart Everson

When going to Hawaii, there is one question that you must answer first: Which island? Hawaii Gaga has a great quick quiz that you can take and it will recommend the top 4 islands for you. They also break down their description of how they determine island rankings. When I took the quiz The Big Island tied for 3rd. So why did I still go to there?

Because of my answer to question number two! What is the number one thing you want to do/see? My answer: Lava! Being home to one of the world’s most active volcanos, I knew the Big Island was my optimal destination.

Travel

I’d also considered doing an island hopping cruise. It’s not particularly easy to island hop and if you want to see the most of the 50th state this might be your best choice, however it’s not the cheapest way to visit Hawaii. Granted, unless you know someone living there, there isn’t really a cheap way to do Hawaii.  I checked and compared every travel website as well as calculated a total of booking everything (hotel, flights, car) separately.  I finally settled on booking through Delta Vacations – it ended up being the same price as Expedia for the exact same trip, and I liked having the peace of mind of booking a Delta flight through Delta Airlines. I can’t promise you it’ll be the cheapest option for your trip, but it’s worth it to check vacation deals through hotels and airlines too!

After you decide on your island destination you have to pick where you’ll stay – whether you’ll rent a condo/house, stay in a hotel/resort, or find a hostel. We stayed at The Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel. It had a great location (within walking distance of food, shops, beaches), beautiful views (ocean view rooms available), and was recently renovated. Ultimately, it’s everything you’d expect from a Courtyard Marriott.

However, this point brings us to the first (and only) thing I would have changed about our trip. King Kam is located in Kailua-Kona on the Western side of the island. You could very easily spend your entire vacation in the Kona districts, if you’re looking for great snorkeling and nice beaches then that’s all you need. If you’re interested in “Adventure Hawaii” as I like to call it, Kona might not be the ideal landing spot. On our next trip (yes, we’re already ready to go back!) we’ve determined that it’d be best to spend half of the trip in Kona and half of the trip on the opposite side of the island in Hilo. Great hiking can be found in Hilo and it’s closer to the Volcano. We actually spent a great deal of our vacation in the car getting from one side of the island to the other. But, driving on Hawaii roads is much more enjoyable to mainland interstates!

Road Trip HI

Cell phone photography by Lauren Everson

On Tuesday we spotted a cruise ship off the Hilo coast and again in Kona on Wednesday. Most island hopping cruises make these two stops on the Big Island. Stuart and I both were glad that we didn’t opt for a “Cruise Hawaii” vacation. By renting a car, we had great freedom with our schedule and never felt rushed. 

I bought a travel book (Lonely Planet Hawaii: The Big Island (Regional Travel Guide)) and read it on the 9.5 hr plane ride. I preferred this book to others because it broke the island up into districts which allowed me to “plan” each day by location and see as much as possible without being inefficient in our travels. We hit each of the 9 districts in Hawaii County. In fact, this vacation was the first time I’d ever not had a plan for every minute of every day – it was such a strange feeling and by Thursday I was over it and ready for an official schedule!

If the Big Island isn’t on your bucket list already, I urge you to add it and hope that our photographs do the island the justice it’s due. (When I figure out how, I’ll create an album on my blog for the photos that don’t make the posts directly.) Here is a link to my Facebook photo album from our trip!