Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Island Hopping

After an hour ferry ride, our first stop in Maui was to sample some of the local brew. I always think of Elf when people proclaim they have the best - although this place was pretty darn good!
As we strolled through the town of Lahaina, along with a giant cruise boat full of other visitors, we came across this really cool tree.
Walking up some stairs to a place called "Dan's Green House" I thought we would find a head shop, but it was a tropical plant and bird store. Brian made friends with this 6 month old parrot who kept biting him. This store is the only one on Maui that certifies plants and birds to travel back to the mainland.
We ate lunch at a place called Kimo's, which was okay, but the view was incredible. I couldn't get over how cool this cloud was so I took his picture.

After some gelato and a little more walking around in the 80+ degree heat, we headed back to the dock and took an earlier ferry back to Lanai. We were glad we visited but it was very crowded compared to Lanai. Most people have left for the weekend and we are virtually at the resort with what feels like 20 other people. We were craving some pizza so we checked out a local place called Pele's Other Garden, it wasn't fancy but it hit the spot. Unfortunately when we were on Maui we found out that our sunset cruise for tomorrow had been canceled since we were the only people signed up - I think that would have made it perfect but since Brian hasn't been feeling well maybe it worked out for the best.

One of these things just doesn't belong here...

I will be the first to admit that I am not really the “Four Seasons” type – whatever that means. Well, I guess I can tell you what it means after a short shuttle bus ride into town. Two women sat in front of us discussing whose yellow, square cut diamond was larger and how they had to have their current spouses sign pre-nups in order to protect their own wealth. The other conversations on the bus were strangely similar – second homes, buying quarter horses based on hip proportions, and trying to make gift getters be more grateful. It’s not that I have a problem with any of these people; it’s just a stark contrast between them and where I live.
My attempt to copy the brochure photo of the pool.
I chose this place, this island, to get away. Billed as the “quiet, romantic and relaxing” island, I was all in. It’s funny to pretend to live in the same universe as some of the other guests, although I guess we really do live, vote, work and invest together – I just don’t plan on buying any quarter horses anytime soon. 
This island has definitely been a great getaway. I feel like I am in another country or on a cruise ship. Your itinerary is up to you and the biggest decision is where to eat your next meal. I have also caught up on some long overdue reading. I finally finished When Helping Hurts [a suggestion from my pastor] - a great book that discusses how to alleviate poverty without being harmful to the poor or yourself. The gist was to never do anything for the poor that they themselves can do. I also finished Seth Godin's book Tribes which talks about not being afraid to start your own movement [or tribe] through just doing what you are passionate about without any boundaries of fear. Being a leader without really having to manage the process. A great, quick read I would highly recommend. Tomorrow we're off to Maui!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Snorkeling Superman Style

So day 2 got off with a bang and some breakfast and then it was down to the dock for a snorkeling adventure with Trilogy Tours. We went with a group of about 25 people and sailed into Shark Fin Cove, note in picture above the rock shaped like said shark fin.

This was my first time snorkeling and I was excited to cross off one more of my life list items. I was a little hesitant at first not knowing exactly the proper breathing coordination needed for such an activity. As soon as I got into the water with my mask, snorkel, float belt and flippers I tried breathing and got a little panicky. I took a deep, yogic breath and relaxed. From then on it was blissful. The fish, coral, reefs and even other people's flippers were an amazing underwater sight to see. The float belt let me kick around like superman with my arms out in front of me. I would've stayed in for longer than the hour or so we were in the water but the lunch bell was ringing on the boat.

On the way back we rode in the rubber boat and had a wet and bumpy ride back to the dock. I was most excited that the hyper-active French [or German or Swedish or something] children were on the other boat.
The rubber boat.
After showers we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon. Brian took a nap and I read some magazines. We had dinner at the Lanai Hotel in town - the beet Carpaccio and seafood pad thai were a great way to end the day.
BTW, finding plumeria flowers all over the ground is a perfect reason for a photo shoot, right?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

All Signs Point To...

The sound of wild turkeys in trees woke us at 6am. We made our way to breakfast (I had macadamia nut brioche French toast) and then it was off to Lanai City (which is named that, but is more like a hamlet in size). We got some sandwiches for a picnic and rented an orange (yah!) Jeep to explore the island. Since the island is 98% privately owned there is not a lot to see, just a lot of open land and hard to reach beaches. 

Our Jeep on the beach. Top was down most of the drive down and filled our lungs with red dirt.
We made it out to the northern part of the island to see the Garden of the Gods (not as impressive as Colorado, BSB said) and to Polihua Beach. It took an hour and a half to get out there (10.6 miles) over very bumpy, windy roads that reminded me of Africa. The sand on the beach was very coarse and the wind picked up and “sandblasted” us as we ran back to get in the car.
Leaping at Garden of the Gods.
We ventured to the other side of the island to see Shipwreck Beach and then dropped off the Jeep. We went back to the resort to go swimming and attended happy hour, complete with local music. After some table top shuffle board we dined outside. The temperature held steady around 75 all day. The necessity of this vacation was clear to me when we both realized that we had forgotten many critical items (sunglasses and dress sandals for Brian and pants, skirts, jacket, etc. for me). I mostly packed books and magazines I guess. Oh well, we will probably make it. 

P.S. Mom, the coolest thing at the Four Seasons is the tiny packages of Woolite with the toiletries so I can properly wash out my swimsuit. I knew you would want to know that my travel laundry needs were being met!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This morning was a quiet morning for KCI security, with an hour to spare we cleared TSA in two minutes flat, after Brian surrendered his Chapstick for further investigation. We were also pardoned a 3 pound over bag - since it's Thanksgiving the gate agent said. Although it's always bad to start your trip with too much because it limits what you can add later. I haven't seen any stripping incidents by fellow passengers but I guess the day is young and there are two more airports to go. Hope everyone enjoys their holiday and I'll be talking to you soon on the blog!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Houston: The Next 36

a. Jessica and Jonathan at Ruby Tequilas.
b. The Downtown Aquarium's salt water tank.
c. Tequila Pineapple at Ruby Tequilas - not as good as it looks.
d. Aquarium's white tiger - the featured exhibit - not sure what the connection to the aquarium is.
e. Poser fish pretending to be a starfish.
f. Sunset in the city from my room.
g. Are we in Gothem? No it's Houston.
h. Sushi at Fish. Yummy!
i. Second tiger sighting at the aquarium, RRRAAARRR!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Houston: First 24

So getting bumped from your hotel for overbooking has it's perks. Besides the free room and free internet you also get multiple rides on the hotel shuttle. This provided me the chance to learn these fun facts about Houston, TX:
  1. Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. but is soon to take over Chicago as #3.
  2. Where the Enron headquarters used to be - this was pointed out three different times.
  3. There are 8 miles of underground tunnels under the city for pedestrians (kind of like at RIT) and they are open from 5am-4pm daily.
  4. The nicest people in the world live here, although the driver told me that the people were all really warm-blooded here and I am sort of assuming from the rest of the conversation that that is what he meant.
  5. You should eat at the District 7 Grill (which we did).
So, that's about it from here. [Will get up the next 24 soon.] Thanks again to Jonathan for helping me man the YVC booth at The Big Tent Conference!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who Are You?

I chuckled as I read this article today and easily identified myself as an Outside Flight Ninja/Conflict Resolution Manager but it made me think of who my friends and family are. I'm pretty sure Brian is a less scary version of the Slow Burner. My favorite people to befriend in crappy airport situations are the Expense-Account Drinkers and I am amused by the Oblivious Boobs. There is a description of pretty much everyone I have ever traveled with. There unfortunately isn't a quiz to help you but once you read one that is you, you'll know. So, who are you?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scan Me, Pat Me, Wand Me Down

I had a conversation with a friend this weekend about the body scanners in airports. The discussion was around pilots being concerned about the amount of radiation they were being exposed to. Hmm, I hadn't thought about that. I just know the lane in the KCI airport to avoid so I don't have to go through that - I think I mentioned in a blog post awhile back about how TSA still hasn't resolved the stored image issues (like how long and where to store your image for later use). So, then I get to work Monday and see this article about the guy who refuses a scan and doesn't want the new touchy-feely pat down, way more invasive than the old ones, and is now being fined $11,000. Have you had one of those? They are un-com-for-ta-ble. I'll leave it at that.

In other travel related news I have been working on reading this article about a guy who spends 30 days in 30 different airports with a JetBlue unlimited pass. It's taking me awhile to get through because it's a little on the long side but it's funny and I don't want to rush it.

Finally from me tonight, I am making good progress on the blog winner weekend. I have found a vegan BBQ place, I am so excited, that was my goal for this week. We'll see how it goes.

P.S. Thank you to Kristin Huntley (www.kristinhuntley.com) for my new blog header!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hello? Kansas City, are you there?

Awhile back I had posted that the blog contest winner weekend had been booked and that I was in need of some ideas for the "7 Wonders of Kansas City" adventure. I didn't hear any suggestions and I need some soon, pretty please! I think it would be fun for you, and me, to give each item a shout-out to its suggester on the blog in the recap of the weekend. They could be seasonal (like your favorite things to do this time of year in KC) or normal (like you love going to Union Station), whatever you have, I'm open. I am running out of time as it is officially three weeks from yesterday that the barely 24 hour long adventure will take place (SW's block on the last flight of the day on Friday for Rapid Rewards tickets is to blame for the shortened stay). So far I have one or two ideas of my own and could use your help with a few, or six more. Just post the ideas as a comment to this post. Thanks!

Another reason I am feeling frantic is that there are two trips that will take place before the contest winner's weekend - Houston and Lanai, HI. The first for work, the latter for play. I am stoked about both as they will be two new destinations for me. But I am really most excited that today we booked a couples massage for Lanai and they said that it will take place in a cabana over-looking the ocean...just like in all the movies. I love making my movie dreams come true.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where Is That Again?

In the same spirit of passing along news about Madagascar during my planning for that trip I thought I might pass along some news about Liberia as well as a little history in case you'd like to know a little more than its location on the map.

Liberia was founded and settled by freed American slaves in 1821-1822 through a private organization called the American Colonization Society. It was officially founded as the Republic of Liberia in 1847. This has made for a long and interesting history with the United States. Their official language is English, they currently have a female president and they, like many other African nations, are in a process of rebuilding after two civil wars, one in 1989 and the other in 1999.

Liberia has recently been praised for their efforts to reduce corruption by an organization called Transparency International and has risen from 30th place in 2009 up to 11th this year for African countries with the least perceived corruption due to efforts by the government to increase overall transparency. The president is working hard to rebuild and has made a bold move to put her entire cabinet on administrative leave until she decides who to invite back. The country is working hard to rebuild their military and police forces as well.

In trip preparation news we are awaiting an official letter to send with our passports to get visas. In order to get a visa granted in many non-tourist areas you need to give the embassy proof of why you are in the country. We also gained two more travelers who are friends of Kathi, one of my trip-mates. They are doctors coming along to assess the medical needs, facilities, etc.