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Tag: Travel

‘Tis the Season to Surprise

In the blink of an eye, 2014 has flown by and the holidays are here. Time is such a weird wibbly wobbly, timey wimey thing. Our time in Hawaii flew by. Then we got back home and bought our plane tickets to Georgia for Thanksgiving as a surprise (no one thought we were coming) and September/October/November dragged on so slowly. I barely could contain myself. Surprises always make me crazy. I love doing them, but Lord have mercy, keeping them secret almost kills me.

BUT this time, we pulled it off. I didn’t tell a soul that we’d be flying the red-eye to Georgia for Thanksgiving day. We landed Thursday morning, freshened up in the airport, grabbed the rental car, and headed up I-95 to Dad’s. I was a ball of antsy excitement. Running on fumes after a night of half-sleep on the plane + jittery from a strong latte in the airport. Ready. To. Get. There.

Dad and Kathy host Thanksgiving every year and the whole step-family comes to celebrate it together — about 30 people. I knew that by the time we arrived around noon, they’d be in the final stages of prep and Thanksgiving lunch would be served soon. I also knew that Dad would likely be standing outside talking. We live on a private road in the woods, just outside my hometown in the county (in other words, it’s the boonies, y’all). Knowing my Dad well, I knew that he’d be on high alert if a strange vehicle came driving down the road (private property!). He’d be wondering who it was.

I also knew that if said vehicle came down the road blaring their horn, he’d be ticked. So you can guess what I did…

We came down the road, in a bright red rental car, blaring our horn as loud as possible. As we turned the final corner, I could see him standing at the end of the driveway, glaring down the road. I was on the edge of my seat, shaking with excitement / wildly over-caffeinated.

As we pulled up to the driveway, I was waving like a fool through the window. His angry expression slowly faded away to puzzlement. I leapt out of the car and ran over to him. “SURPRISE!!!” I think it took a good ten minutes for him to realize what was happening and smile. 🙂

After that, it was a blur of hugs and visiting with family. We spent most of the day around our fire pit since it was cold, cold, cold in south Georgia. By the end of the day, I smelled like woodsmoke, had probably eaten 10+ cookies amidst all the other delicious food items, and was collapsing into bed way too late.

The rest of the weekend was spent surprising the rest of my family — Aunt Kim, Uncle Brian, Matthew; my Grandma; and my Mom and her very best friends. Aunt Kim’s reaction was priceless. We threw open the door of their house and she screamed, “NO!!!!” Grandma was so sweet and happy to see us. Mom and her friends landed in the airport on Saturday after a trip to NYC and were in a daze of disbelief when we popped out in front of them at the airport. All around good fun!

Now we’re back in San Francisco and there’s 21 days till Christmas. It’s raining here properly for this first time in ages. And yesterday, I bought chestnuts at Trader Joe’s — to roast I guess. Where’s my open fire? Don’t ask me, I always go overboard during the holidays at TJ’s.

Must be the holidays, right? 😉 Hope all of you U.S. folks had a great Thanksgiving. I’m incredibly thankful for all of our friends and family around the world. We wouldn’t be who we are without you.

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My love and I in Napa last month, celebrating our dear friends Mike and Natalie’s engagement party. Happy and thankful!

 

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Maui: Road to Hana – The Jump & The Dark

I discovered something funny about myself when we were in Hawaii. It was probably something I already knew and just didn’t want to acknowledge, but when it’s staring you in the face while on vacation, it’s something you notice and think about.

Here’s the thing: I am not very good at relaxing, being on vacation, taking it slow, etc. I’m no good at it. I am too Type A. Too “what’s the next thing on our list?”

From the minute we stepped off the plane in Maui, Anish was exclaiming, “Oh MAN, I feel relaxed already. Doesn’t this feel nice? Vacation here we come. This is GREAT.” Meanwhile, I had already fast-walked down the terminal to find the Hertz place to rent the car > get on the road > get to our lunch place > check-in to the hotel. Go-go-go! I was still in agenda-mode.

One day into it, on our Road to Hana day, I was definitely feeling happy about being in Hawaii, that’s for sure. But I wasn’t relaxed. The whole drive I was checking the time / reading the travel guide / getting irritated by other drivers / stressing about parking on the side of the small, windy road, etc. I wasn’t slowing down. And so, it was a battle of wills between Relaxation-Central Anish and Task-Master Taylor.

Luckily, the Road to Hana was just what I needed in a lesson of patience. It was endlessly frustrating at first, but I really had to let.it.go to be able to enjoy it. Once you were past a certain point on the road, you had to keep going. There was no fast lane or instructions or clock to be followed. We arrived in Hana late that afternoon/evening, and by that point, the only way to go was to keep going, ’round the bottom part of the island until it curved northwest in the direction of Wailea, then Lahaina, then Ka’anapali. Estimated time almost 3 hours.

Two things helped me switch off the Type A, No Relax mode:

1// THE DARK — As we drove around the island, past Hana, the sun set quickly until we were driving alone in pitch-black darkness on winding, country roads. We knew Haleakala Crater was to the right of us the whole time, but we couldn’t see a darn thing. It was just us and random herds of cattle that roam the ranches on the southern part of the island.

We were out there, in the dark, with only one option — to keep driving. We had no place to be. No destination but the hotel. We drove slowly and carefully through the intense darkness. I’d never seen a night so black, but it wasn’t scary. We stopped multiple times and put the convertible top down to look at the stars. They gleamed brighter than I’d ever seen them before, and it was wonderful. Something we would have never seen if we had raced along earlier that day.

2// THE JUMP — Earlier on the Road to Hana, we came across a favorite spot of the local’s called “Ching’s Pond.” If you were driving by, you’d pass directly above it on the bridge and never know it’s there below — a pretty swimming hole with one very deep narrow hole for jumping. We stopped there to cool off in the pond and watch the folks that our guidebook said jumped off the high ledges above (and sometimes the bridge) into the deep pool. At this point, we were more than halfway along the road and our moods were finally lightening up, although I was still counting down till Hana.

As we waded into the water, a guy climbed up onto the highest ledge while his family watched from the rocks and jumped straight off it into what appeared to me to be the smallest diving hole known to man. We made conversation with them as the man swam back to his family, exclaiming, “Oh! I lost my wedding ring!” and then laughing it off. Anish was mildly interested in taking the leap and said so, and the guy agreed that he should try it. It was no big deal, he said. You just have to make sure you jump in the darkest blue spot and look out for the shallow ledge underwater just below the place you jump. Oh… okay.

This is where Task-Master, Type A Taylor has a mini heart attack and side-eyes the guy while encouraging Anish not to do the jump.

But it was already too late. Anish was swimming across the pond with his GoPro in hand. The guy with the endless encouragements and missing wedding ring swam alongside him to offer advice and heckling. Lovely.

Anish climbed up to the first ledge and thought he might try to lower jump first to make sure he could hit the target, etc. That’s when the guy proceeded to heckle and tell him that local kids jumped from the highest spot, so why shouldn’t he? Never underestimate the power of peer pressure. Before I knew it, Anish was on the highest ledge looking down into the sapphire blue pool, about to jump.

It was at that moment that the constricting cords wrapped around my soul started to come loose. The Type A ones that try to control everything around me, all at once. I was standing in the pool, while Anish stood on a high ledge about to take a leap of faith.

All of the sudden, I let it go. My childlike sense of adventure and bravery crept back up to me and tugged my heartstrings. I found myself shouting, “You can do it, babe!” I was smiling, and I knew it would be fine. It would be exhilarating actually and worth the jump.

So he did it! TWICE, no less! And we were both grinning and shaking every time.

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It’s amazing how one day can help you learn so much about yourself. All you need sometimes is a little bit of bravery and the gumption to take a leap of faith. Who knew that the next day — Tuesday, August 19 — I would be facing an even bigger adventure and the biggest leap of faith I might ever take. 🙂

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Thoughts from the Train

I snagged an Amtrak ticket for cheap from New York to Boston and decided to sneak away from our week-long trip to the City and spend 48 hours in New England. I love the train because it avoids the traffic and the hassle of the bus in favor of quiet, Wifi, and coastal views from the train.

I’ve only gone back to Boston once since we moved last September. If you remember, we left Boston on the last day of September 2013 and woke up in San Francisco on October 1, which is Anish’s birthday and was a new day, new month, new life in a new city. No small thing.

It’s been wonderful and wow, we’ve seen so much since moving to the West Coast, but I’ve had many heavy moments where I questioned our decision. Where I kicked myself for not moving to New York instead, or just plain cried because I missed Boston. Eventually [thankfully] those feelings always fade. The nostalgia tucks itself back in my heart, and I look out from our Russian Hill neighborhood at the Bay and Alcatraz and Mount Tam in the distance, and I can smile again. It is really something, that city. There’s no place like it. I’m grateful to be there and for all the opportunities it has afforded us. And yet… and yet, I still miss the East Coast.

One of the many wonderful things that Anish does as a partner is remind me that nothing in our life is set in stone. He always says to me, when I’m having a moment, “Taylor, if we need to move back, we will. If you want to go home to Boston, we can. If you want to move to New York, let’s do it. If we think we should go to London for a year, why not? We can do what we need to do to be happy.”

It’s not as if we’ll up and move tomorrow after one emotional moment, but his reassurance that the option exists is enough. Isn’t that true? If you feel trapped, things always feel worse. Even if San Francisco is our forever, just knowing that no one and nothing is making me stay is enough.

For now, we’re Californians. We might not be forever, but where we are is good. And when I’m missing it, when I need that New England feeling and hugs from some of my closest friends, I’ll take a trip.

And tonight, I think I’ll go to Boston.

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I’ll be back to Hawaii posts soon. I have many more stories to tell, including the “special” one, and lucky for all of us, we just got our photos back! Stay tuned. For now, I’m going to soak up the rest of this week with my best guy, best friends, and favorite cities. xoxo – Taylor

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Maui: Road to Hana – The Drive

Life is a journey, not a destination. Ah, those words. Quoted over and over. I’ve always nodded at them, thinking, “Of course. Yes.” And yet, when applying it, I’m not the best… as evidenced by the first hours in our journey to Hana.

The Road to Hana on Maui is a famous 64-mile coastal road stretching from the city of Kahului to the town of Hana. It’s a popular destination for tourists to drive the stretch to Hana and back over the day, stopping at all the waterfalls and epic views along the way. Make no mistake though, although it’s popular, it’s still a remote tropical paradise and the road less traveled. There are very few people staying in that area or even living there. It’s very much wild Hawaii and absolutely breathtaking! There are over 600 curves and 50 bridges along the narrow road, so it’s quite a trip!

It was our plan for Monday, our first full day in Maui. We’d drive the Road to Hana, stop at whatever sights we wanted, and then maybe go see Haleakala (the volcano) afterwards. Piece of cake! Would take 5 hours at most. Yeah… my naivety is astounding sometimes. 😉

We left at 8:30am and argued for the first two hours. It was lovely [insert sarcastic voice here]. But really, in an effort to be frank, we were a bit snippy with each other because the road was two-lane and very narrow, we’d left later than we wanted, and we started the beginning of the road alongside half of the tourists on the island (or so it felt).

For those first couple hours, it felt like we’d driven forever and seen nothing. I kept expecting the “wow” feeling and wasn’t getting it. Our guidebook was helpful, but nothing was standing out to me as a “must stop” place. I started counting down the mile markers till Hana… waiting for the destination.

Things weren’t boding well for an enjoyable day until we FINALLY came upon our first waterfall. That’s when the smiles slowly started, and the bickering faded. The top of the car was down, the sun was beating down on us, and we were finally noticing, “oh hey, I guess this whole place is kinda pretty.”

We started stopping more often and not worrying about how long it would take to get there or back, and more importantly, not worrying about the goober drivers around us who didn’t know how to safely drive on narrow roads. We saw waterfall after waterfall. Took a detour for banana bread and lava rocks along the coast. Explored a state park with a cave you could swim in, a black sand beach, and lava tubes.

Each segment of our drive helped loosen our uptight attitudes and nerves. By the time we rolled into Hana, 8 HOURS LATER, we were happy as clams. Sunset was coming, but we didn’t care. Unlike the majority of tourists who turn around in Hana and head back, we kept going onto a road “not recommended for rental cars.” Adventure was waiting!

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The beginning of our trip in the morning, as viewed from the GoPro, which was mounted on the top of the car.
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Taro fields on the coast.
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Waterfall along the road.
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Detour to a swimming pool off the road! Feeling a little better at this point…
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My guy and our awesome vehicle for the week! Terrible view though. 😉
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Aunt Sandy’s banana bread? YES PLEASE. Best banana bread of my life.
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Lava rocks and two post banana bread smiles!
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The adventurer!
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The beautiful Wai’anapanapa State Park. We both wished we could’ve had more time here!
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Wai’anapanapa’s black sand beach!
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Made it!

 

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