Just the Two of Us

11 11 2019

Something amazing happened!

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Nathan’s mom decided to join us on our Hawaii trip (which you’ve seen from the photos).  But this means, that not only has there been an extra set of hands to help with the girls…..but we were also able to get away for a couple of nights just the two of us!!  When was the last time that happened you ask?  It was June 2018.  HA!  (but also true).

And so, we were able to combine a work trip with a leisure trip, and we flew to the Big Island of Hawaii.

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Very exciting!  BUT as soon as I said my goodbyes to the girls my stomach started churning and by the time we reached the airport, I wasn’t sure if I ate something weird or if it was the nerves.  It was nerves and maybe Mama Guilt, especially since on this trip Brooklyn has just started saying, ‘mama I love you so much!’  She holds my face in her hands and looks me in the eye and tells me this over and over again (crying over here!!!)

And so we took a 45 minute flight with just a carry on.  We booked a convertible and drove with the top down every time we were in the car.

We made stops at scenic overlooks, visited beaches just to see them and took pics of all the random things we saw.

We made dinner reservations at 7:15PM!  And we floated around in an infinity pool, just because we could.  We still went to bed by 10PM…

Although we didn’t see all there was to see in Hawaii in only 2 short days, we did have a chance to visit a place that we had never been together and remember what it was like to be just the two of us again.

So I guess what I’m saying is….thank you Grandma!  And….who’s coming on our next trip with us??

 

 

 





ummm…should we or shouldn’t we?

10 11 2019

Today we had a lot of magical moments that took place after I thought we had one of those epic fail moments on vacation when you realized you probably made a bad vacation decision…

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Waimea Falls Park

This morning would make the 3rd time I have convinced Nathan and the girls that we should go to Laniakai Beach to look for sea turtles.  We went twice last year, and this year I was convinced that things would be different, and that I wasn’t just dragging along 2 toddlers across a busy street, onto sand that was hard to get a steady footing on, to be almost hit by oncoming crashing waves.  Today…we would see SEA TURTLES!  This mantra carried us through all morning, it got us in the car by 8AM, and it got us back in the car after breakfast.

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But alas, NO sea turtles…again.  The lifeguards actually apologized and said that usually they are out….but not today.

Last year, we carried two scared and crying girls back to the car, but this time the girls wanted to take their shoes off so they could have their toes in the sand (their words, not mine).

And so we ended up enjoying our time at the beach, despite not seeing sea turtles, and got the sweetest photos.

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We had decided that today was going to be the day that we packed in a road trip type day and drive the North Shore and then down the windward side of the island, seeing key landmarks like the Crouching Lion and Chinaman’s Hat rock formations, the Banzai Pipeline, enjoy the grounds at Turtle Bay Resort.  Well, the girls fell asleep, so we skipped Turtle Bay, breezed past the Banzai Pipeline after I took a quick look, and the rock formations…well, they’re really just rock formations.

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We contemplated stopping at Kualoa Ranch for lunch, but after parking looked busy decided to move on…..but I hadn’t given much thought as to what would be after that.  It was either fast food…or Honey’s…..

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We found ourselves driving down this intensely green jungle-like road on our way to ‘Honey’s Restaurant’, supposedly a restaurant on the Koolau Golf course.   We drove through a gate that said First Methodist Church, and I thought I saw another sign about a golf course, but I didn’t know if it was a gate, or another road….(turns out it was a gate with a bunch of chickens, roosters and cats hanging out at it, which is also weird).

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Finally we can upon a building amidst these towering green cliffs, and it was the weirdest feeling….like, is this right?  Did we/I make the right decision?  There are no people around, are we sure we’re in the right place?  We walked into this quiet and empty building, walked down the stairs (still no people), into what appeared to be a restaurant, and saw a sign to seat ourselves.  Finally we saw some people (two tables).  So, yes – we were indeed at a restaurant, but what were we getting ourselves into.

Turns out we stumbled upon this perfect, quiet, empty, amazing setting to have lunch.  The girls fed fish at a koi pond, walked over this picturesque bridge and were these two little spots of red and blue amidst a sea of green.  It was so surprising and unexpected.  But it was enough for us to stay awhile, get out the big camera and go a little crazy with the pictures.

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Loving the random memories and photo ops that we are finding here…





Just the Two (four…) of Us

22 03 2017

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I got a lot of questioning looks when I told people that for our, so-called, ‘Babymoon’, we were going to take a road trip from Seattle to Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons.  They said, ‘Really? A Road trip??  Why not Hawaii?  Or what about Europe?? You should do something now without the babies (yes babies…twins!) that you wouldn’t do when they arrive.’

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Well you know what….I can see going to Europe with the babies (at least this is what I thought before we had them), and I can definitely see us going to Hawaii with the girls.  But what I can’t see us doing with two children in tow is a Road Trip – ‘Nathan & Traci Style’.  That means 12 – 16 hour days in the car, tracking herds of bison on the backroads, taking photo upon photo upon photo of scenery and at least seriously considering to get up in the early wee hours of the morning so that we could catch photos of the colours of the sunrise streaking across the sky, or waiting out at the edge of a river to see if the cinnamon mama bear and her cubs would be stopping by for a drink.

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In a way this road trip was a farewell to our life as off the beaten path travelers who take every opportunity to pack in as much as we possibly can, experience everything we can experience and travel without any thought as to the necessary feeding/potty breaks that will inevitably rule our lives for the next….ever.

Plus, we had to have one last trip in our Subaru XV.  We had to say goodbye in true style and get as much dirt and as many bugs as we possibly could on this car, before we gave it a good wash and turned it over to a new home.  Because, when we had to put down the backseats just to get the stroller in the back, we realized that we would not be able to keep our beloved Subaru if the seats had to be set up for two car seats…which we kind of need…

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And so, we embarked on our road trip.  We racked up over 2000 miles in a 5 day period.

It was an incredible trip.

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A trip that gave Nathan and I a chance to ‘hang out’, tell stories, share experiences and cherish a little bit of time together, real time together, before it was not just the two of us anymore.  Because you have to admit, when you’re going on a road trip you have to be pretty selective on who you choose to travel with because it could be the most amazing and intimate bonding experience, or it could be just a little too much time together and you end up needing to have separate quarters for a while after the trip.

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To be honest, I may have pushed the boundaries a little bit, as I didn’t see any other pregnant people sitting along the rim waiting for Ol’ Faithful to put on its show…

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or strolling along the steam of the hot springs at the Grand Prismatic Spring…

 

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…or hanging out the sunroof, as far as I could before my belly got in the way, to take photos of bison and longhorns.

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So glad that we made the choice to do this trip.  Can’t wait til the girls get old enough to be able to enjoy the sights and scenery instead of wonder why we are at yet another scenic overlook taking photos.  And even though we couldn’t do everything we would have done, had I not been 6 months pregnant (I did offer to get out of the car so Nathan could do a little off-roading on terrain that was a little too aggressive for me) I love all of the photos we were able to capture of our adventures on the road.

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What’s a Detour or Two?

31 12 2016

With 40 hours left in New Zealand and over 230 miles left to drive to catch our flight home, somehow it just made sense that we should add an extra 7o miles to our trip and a couple of unexpected detours.  Because….when are we going to be back in New Zealand, on this type of a road trip…besides we can sleep on the plane, right?

So we were on the road early, still feeling the high from our glacier hike and feeling relaxed from our soak at the glacier hot pools the day before.

The forecast said rain, but we seemed to have gotten on the road before the clouds rolled in, and although they chased us and eventually caught up to us, we had a great (although long) drive for our last full day in New Zealand, zipping along the West Coast of the South Island, and winding through the Southern Alps as we headed to Christchurch.

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Views from the Road

I can’t remember who told us to make a side trip to Hokitika Gorge – but it was one of those places that is so far off the beaten path as you drive towards it, you start to question whether or not you are still going in the right direction….did you go too far….did you make the right turn….should you turn back…and then you find the parking lot, and realize that a lot of people have made the same pilgrimage that you have, only somehow you found yourself driving on an empty road for the last hour…

Hokitika Gorge is also one of those places that you can’t believe it actually looks like that, and when you look at your photos afterwards, you can’t quite believe that you were there, and the water was truly that colour.

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Hokitika Gorge

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It also made me wish that this wasn’t a drive through type stop for us because the water looked soooo inviting, but alas, the road trip must go on!

We stopped in at Hokitika for lunch, and also to take the obligatory tourist photo of their driftwood sign at the beach.

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The day was half over….but we still had one more photo detour and 230 miles of driving before we could rest our heads (and feet) for the night.

Because you can’t leave the South Island in New Zealand without seeing the Pancake Rocks…right?  Right? Well, that’s the idea I had in my head, so on we went to see the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.

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Limestone formations that look surprisingly like huge stacks of pancakes.  Weird.  But also a nice place to take a stroll and stretch our legs, grab a flat white and check it off the list before we started the last leg of our journey for the day and for our trip.

Only another 4ish hours (more like 6) to go and the width of the South Island to go before we could check into our last hotel, pack up for the last time, and enjoy our last true flat white.

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We drove through the Southern Alps and had an opportunity to enjoy the views with just the perfect lighting as the sun started to set behind us.

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We found a cute little honey stand which had a sign that made me laugh.  Seriously the cheapest honey that we came across.  I think the souvenir shops were selling them for $20 – $30+ per small jar.

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As we wound through the Alps, the rain finally caught up with us and the clouds turned the sky dark well before its time, and as grey clouds turned into black night, we found ourselves rolling into Christchurch.

We knew that Christchurch was known for its English heritage but also that it had experienced some devastating earthquakes in the last 5-6 years that had destroyed a lot of its historical stone buildings and had effected much of its landscape.

Knowing that Christchurch had earthquake damage was way different than seeing it with our own eyes.

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We spent our last morning in New Zealand wandering the streets of Christchurch, taking in both the sights of earthquake wreckage and public art installations and murals that created a landscape of contrast.

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And so with a last glimpse at destruction and art, we headed to the airport to complete our 10 day road trip in New Zealand.  Still buzzing from the adrenaline rush of our sea kayaking tour, black water rafting, bungy jumping, glacier trekking adventures and feeling amazed at the beauty of the natural landscape, we settled in for our very very long flight home.

But New Zealand had one more surprise in store for us.  Air New Zealand gave out Hokey Pokey ice cream as their dessert!!  What?  Ice cream on the plane.  Kind of in love.

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Until next time New Zealand. Stay beautiful.





A Day of Firsts

23 12 2016

Last big adventure planned for our New Zealand trip.  Ice trekking on the Franz Josef Glacier.

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First time in a Helicopter (for me)

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First time wearing crampons

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First time hiking on a glacier

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First time being told to stop so that the team can fill in a hole in the ground due to a constantly shifting glacier – and feeling completely safe moving forward on our ice trek

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Lots of firsts on this day.  But definitely not the first time New Zealand amazed us on this trip.

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NZ – West Coast Style

10 06 2016

We left the sunshine in Queenstown to start our 4.5 hour trek on NZ’s West Coast towards Franz Josef Glacier.

We wound our way up through the surrounding mountains to take in the views up top.

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Before we came across this unusual sight on the flat lands at Cardrona…an opportunity to support the New Zealand Breast Cancer Association.  It definitely added a pop of colour to the landscape.

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We took a break in Wanaka.  Unfortunately it was pretty grey and overcast, because otherwise it would have been a beautiful stop on this town perched on the coast of Lake Wanaka.  But it did give us a chance to indulge in a Flat White stop.  These baristas are artists!

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As we drove along the water we could see the clouds rolling in, starting to steal our pockets of sunshine.  It was definitely still beautiful but we knew that our road trip was in for some rain.

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We drove through misty farmland, and just when I was telling Nathan that I was disappointed that we hadn’t seen more sheep, and that it seemed like cows were the most prevalent herd (and not sheep like people had said), we came across my NZ wish.

A Sheep Herd Road Block!

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I was half in and half out of the car, snapping photos like crazy.  I loved it and it was exactly what I had hoped for when we decided to go to New Zealand.

The excitement of this moment kept me on a high for the next few hours of our trip.

Finally we eased out of the dense green landscape and found ourselves driving along the coast.

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And we came across Bruce Bay – a top rated NZ Beach.  It could have been the day, but we weren’t quite sure how it was top rated, especially when we were attacked by sand fleas and biting flies and found ourselves dousing each other with bug spray and kind of suffocating ourselves in the car.

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But perhaps, it was the unique stones that could be found on this beach and lasting momentos that everyone left behind.

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The rocks looked like drift wood!

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7 – 8 hours after we began our road trip along the coast we finally rolled into our destination.  Franz Josef Glacier.

It was overcast with passing rain clouds and we crossed our fingers that we would be able to take our helicopter ride and ice trek tour up to the glacier the next day.

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Perhaps we Found a New Favourite

8 06 2016

Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to let it go so long to finish my posts from our trip to New Zealand.

One – I left you hanging. For all you know, I didn’t make it past the bungy jumping!

Two – it’s now been 4 months since we’ve been back to Seattle and back to ‘real’ life. Four months to kind of forget about our trip, to stop telling the stories, four months to forget how beautiful everything was. Well, now that I’ve finally gotten back around to going through the rest of our trip photos…..

Queenstown was beautiful!!

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View from Bob’s Peak

I mean, the water, the mountains (called The Remarkables – which is a pretty appropriate name), the food… Ahh. Now I remember just how great our time was and it makes me wistful for those days and impatient for when we can go back and spend more than 2 days in Queenstown.

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Both Nathan and I felt like we had come ‘home’ when we stepped through our hotel room at the Sofitel (which had heated bathrooms floors and a heated towel rack!) and onto the balcony that overlooked this quaint, European-style town with water and mountain views. We felt like this was a place that was familiar to us and we knew that it was a place that we wanted to come back to.

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Aside from bungy jumping during our two-day stay in Queenstown, we had no other plans.  Which was perfect, since it gave us time to walk around and eat and drink.  That’s essentially what we did.  And we loved it!

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Our first stop: drinking on a boat bar

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We discovered our love of meat pies at FergBaker. Nathan discovered his love of Beef Cheeks

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We spent the morning and afternoon (between eating stops) strolling by the water.

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We watched this guy walk into the water at 8AM and hike his t-shirt up to his arm pits as he waded in up to his chest.  At the time, I thought this was the oddest thing….now that I’m looking back at these photos, I think he had a pretty good idea.

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Two  nights and one full day is not enough time to enjoy this beautiful place but we really tried to take it in as much as we could, and it definitely left a lasting impression.

On our way out of town we got to enjoy the reflection views at Lake Hayes, which was the perfect goodbye (for now, but not forever).

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