2020-10-10 Winter Park Getaway Day 1: It Can Be Whatever You Want

I’m waking up on my second day here in Winter Park Colorado— before the sun and with a fairly healthy headache. It might be a hangover, you know, because at this altitude it only takes a few cocktails to affect a person. Despite reminding each other numerous times last night, we still did not alter our intake of perfect margaritas. But wait, there’s a lot more to the story of our day than just that. Rewind.

After a lovely breakfast yesterday I took my sweet time showering and getting ready for a day out exploring while Jim did research on good hiking trails nearby. That was our first objective of the day, to get the body moving and get lost a little bit in the wilderness. He picked a great little spot that was at a turn-off on mile marker 241 on highway 40, about 10 miles back the way we came in.

It was perfect for several reasons. First, there was a larger turn-off on mile marker 240, just one mile before the one we wanted which had a ton of cars. The perfect carrot for all the wanna-be hikers in the area. So I think most people stopped there. But we went the extra mile to the other turn-off that only had two other cars. The description of the hike in the book that Jim found on the ottoman in the living room of our air-b-n-b (Hiking Grand County Colorado), describes the hike as moderate. The name of it is “Current Creek Loop.”

There’s a description in the book too, on which way to go and where on the trail, but good luck with that. We followed the creek up the hill, on the right side as instructed but with no markings, and no discernible trail, completely lost it near the first junction where we were to “take a right at the ’t’.” We were not sure we were at a T but went right anyhow. It sort of felt like just traipsing off into the wilderness with no clue where to go. But that was OK. We were not really there to follow directions, we just wanted to get the heart pumping and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Lemme tell you, after less than 24 hours, the lung of the Nebraska traveler is no where near ready for the lack of oxygen that hiking causes. That was OK too, though, as we were in no hurry to get anywhere. I mean, the hike promised an aqueduct and a pond at various points, but we had all day and nowhere else to be. That’s the best part of being out here. Freedom.

So we kept going right up the side of the mountain— due north, past a boulder field and through the trees (where the supposed pond would be), but all we found was more slope, boulders, and trees. Each time we went further up, it looked as though we were on the right track but then we would get to the top to find more of the same. We climbed pretty high and I daresay we turned the moderate hike into a more difficult one, but we’re pretty inexperienced so we don’t even know the difference. At a few points it was pretty steep, but for the most part, not really that treacherous.

Finally we declared a final time, “get to the top of this ridge and then that’s it. If there’s no pond, it will be time to turn back.” Surprise, surprise, there was no pond, but the view was pretty badass. And somehow it felt as though we were in the right spot because the top of that ridge line had a trail that looked as though it had been blazed by human beings. We had traveled almost due north to get to that spot so I was sure all we had to do was go due south to get back. But Jim had other ideas. He wanted to walk the ridgline for a bit.

We did that for a while, until I started getting antsy about having gone too far in the “wrong” direction. At that point we began gradually to descent on a path of least resistance. The way we descended was completely different and there were large clearings with only grasses. That looked like a nice flat area to walk across, but the ground was mush. My guess is that perhaps that was the pond at one point and it had grown over with grass since that book was printed. In any case, there was no crossing that so we went around it.

Down and down, meeting up again with the stream and following that back to the trailhead. I’m not sure how long we were out there, but we never saw another person the entire time, which was glorious. The same two other cars were there at the turnout when we arrived back. I took a ton of snaps and coaxed Jim into taking a few couples selfies along the way. It was a good hike.

It was also good to get back in the car and head back toward Winter Park. By then, I had worked up quite an appetite. Neither of us were in the mood to cook so we hunted for takeout instead. I wanted a cheeseburger and Jim wanted tacos. There’s lots of options here which is nice. The place we got take out from was in Fraser and it was called “Azteca” (you can guess who got their way on that one). Doesn’t matter, food cooked by someone else is always delicious.

It was actually the perfect compliment to the margaritas we were planning to have. That has kind of been our thing lately. The margs. We’ve perfected our recipe and brought all the necessary supplies with us— glasses, marg salt, limes, a jigger, simply lime, and of course, the tequila (Patron Silver).

So we nommed on our Mexican food and sipped our drinks and chatted about what else might be in store for our day. With the goal being R and R, we had no plans to leave anywhere else that afternoon/evening. And the less we were exposed to other people and potential virus, the better. Our options were hot tub or Netflix. I brought a deck of cards hoping to entice Jim into playing something with me. I miss playing cards, but I don’t know too many two person games.

We ended up watching one show, which was terrible. And so sipped some more. Then we tried warming the hot tub up, but were unsuccessful, so we sipped some more. I showed Jim a game of solitaire I played when I was a kid and he said it looked like I was making the rules up as I went along. Then we sipped some more until we sauntered up to the bedroom to crash hard.

Which brings me back to the beginning and the lovely hangover I’ve tried very hard to type my way out of this morning. I did pause briefly to take a picture of the sunrise. I imagine with all the fires in the area, the smoke has made for some neat sunrises. Sometimes I think that the main problem with fires isn’t the fires themselves, but the human beings that feel inclined to stop them. Yes, lives are at stake, so they have to try, but forest fires are natures way of cleansing the land. Right? I dunno, perhaps I just heard that somewhere and want to use that to profess that we should just leave it alone and let nature takes its course.

I digress.

Not sure what today has in store for us. We’re for sure going to fiddle with the hot tub some more to see if we can get that working. Soaking in 99 degree water sounds very relaxing. Maybe we’ll go for another hike. Maybe I’ll try reading one of the many books I brought with me. Maybe we’ll just lay around all day doing nothing but chat. For sure I’ll insist on finding a place that serves cheeseburgers.

It’s nice— the fact that it can be whatever we want. We just need to decide what that is.

Cheers to All That (and a bag of chips),
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-09-10 Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts

Pants are for chumps. If you could just wake up and throw on like one article of clothing and a pair of shoes you would too. That’s the beauty of dresses and not having to think too much about anything at 4AM. 4AM — when most of the world is sleeping — the airport is already unnaturally alive with the buzz of caffeinated humans and the smell of pizza. Somebody please tell me why pizza smells so good in the airport at 5AM. If I was at home right now, the smell of food would probably make me feel nauseated. Scratch that.. if I was home now, I’d still be asleep. Hopefully.

Not today though. Today I’m on the move again. It’s the highly anticipated girls trip to a tropical destination where we are gonna drink and eat and be lazy by a pool or ocean or perhaps at a spa. It will be four whole days and nights free of being chef and taxi and maid. And as an added bonus, because I don’t live in the same city as my Texas besties, we get to do it all together, catching up on life.

I’m pretty excited about it or at least I will be once I get past the initial anxiety of traveling. I’ve just boarded the plane and I’m sure the day will take a turn for the better once these two flights are over and done with. Flying — the necessary evil of a travel addict. I would not truly classify myself as an addict as this favorite past-time of mine isn’t really hurting anyone. Well, except maybe my bank account. 😉

That’s it for now. Next stop.. Houston!


~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-24 A Farewell to the Florida Keys

Writing quite a bit after the fact now and somehow the days and dates aren’t adding up. In total we had four full days in Key West and one day on the front and back side of that dedicated to mostly travel. The day after our sight-seeing day when we visited the Hemminway house, we took a Jet-ski tour all the way around the island. Gulf side, to the Atlantic, and back again. It was another great experience and another opportunity to overcome my fear of the water. In truth, the JetSki wasn’t nearly as terrifying as snorkeling because you are above water the entire time AND in control of your own equipment. Plus we had life jackets, so even though we ventured out to deep waters, I never really felt that fear of drowning.

That afternoon it was a different story. We went to fort Zachary Tailor which has one of the few beaches on the island and we tried to swim out to snorkel around some rock formations. We didn’t have flippers to swim and got three quarters of the way and had to turn back. I could not do it and Jim agreed with me. There was more current at that location than the beach at the Dry Tortugas and the water was deep and I simply didn’t have the energy or skills to get there. He said later he would not have been able to make it either even if I wasn’t there, which made me feel a little better. Instead, we ended up trolling around some rocks closer to shore but didn’t really see much.

That evening we walked around Duval street a bit more, but nothing seemed very appealing so we called it off early. The next day would be another long travel day home and I knew it would be better to be well rested for that than to party it up on Saturday night.

Sure enough, we were up early on Sunday and got packed up to leave. We had one more stop/excursion planned for noon up north in Key Largo to hit before heading on to the Miami airport. The drive back up highway 1 was pretty un-eventful and the tour was a relaxing one. Two hours on a pontoon boat exploring the canals of Key Largo and the southern tip of the everglades with its Mangrove trees. We saw a manatee and It came right up to the boat to get a drink of fresh water from a jug they had me pour out over the side. That was really cool. The whole area was fascinating and you could tell the tour-guide/boat driver had been doing that for a long time.

We had a little bit of a dialogue about the prices for the lots and the houses and its incredible how expensive it is. Houses along these canals going for 2-5 million dollars. I can’t even imagine. What’s even more fascinating is that this area of the country gets just wrecked with hurricanes and it’s got to be incredibly expensive to insure those lots/houses. I can’t imagine living there. It was a great place to visit, but I can definitely rule out ever wanting to move to a place like that.

When the tour was over we stayed in Key Largo for lunch at the Sundowner bar and restaurant. I had my second cheeseburger of the trip and it was not as good as the first.

The rest of the trip home was uneventful. It just seemed to take forever. You know when you are traveling to a place, there’s lots of excitement and anticipation and it doesn’t seem that bad. Traveling home is a whole different story. You are worn out, sad that it’s over but looking forward to being home. Every step of the way is blah. Packing, Driving to the airport, returning the rental car, waiting for your flight, yada-yadda. It’s all just blah! We didn’t land until after 10PM so by the time we arrived home, I was ready for sleep.

It was quite an amazing trip and will go down in my books as one of the best vacations I have ever been on. 99.5% of the credit for that goes to my love, for planning everything and being amazing in every single way!

For this one I’m going out in true Miss SugarCookie style and ending with a Keys top 10 list for posterity. In no particular order…

1. Snorkling at the Dry Tortugas/Fort Jefferson.. Holding hands with my sweetie.

2. Riding in the cockpit of a seaplane.

3. Giving a Manatee a drink of fresh water off the side of a boat.

4. The Garbos Cheeseburger experience.

5. Watching sunset from Mallory Square… followed by the street performance of ridiculous Reece.

6. Getting that Jetski to 71km per hour out on the open water.

7. Touring the Hemminway house.

8. Walking up and down Duval street holding hands and stopping into random bars for a cold drink.

9. Sitting on the patio of our condo lazily watching the water, storms, and lizards.

10. Having this whole trip be a surprise and getting to spend so much QT with my new best friend.

And with that, it’s Time to wave Goodbye to the Keys..

Peace and Love Until Next Time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-23 Key West Day 4 – Meeting Hemminway

Don’t blink or you might miss it. The days of vacation seem to fly so fast. Why is it normal life goes so slow sometimes, but when times are good it’s all just sand slipping through an hour glass? Oh what will be will be I guess. I just want to have enough time to write a little bit so I can remember all of it in days and weeks and years to come.

The first few days of this trip were action packed for sure with lots of scheduled activities. The last couple have been a little more chill and impromptu. I’ve said before that Key West has a lot of history to offer, one of those things involved one of the most decorated US writers of all time, Ernest Hemminway. I didn’t have to say a thing about this to JS, he knew I would want to visit the house that he lived in which is now a national treasure.

I’ll admit going in all I really knew was that he was a celebrated writer, and not a whole lot more about his life. Now I do. We took the tour and thus got the full story from our tour guide. His life was fascinating and also tragic. Most of his prize wining novels were loosely based on people, places, and events of his own life.

He was a romantic, married 4 times, lived mostly in Florida (the Key West house) and Paris, and suffered as individual with bi-polar and several other physical ailments that he had his whole adult life. One of those injuries kept him from being drafted during the First World War yet he still volunteered and ended up getting wounded from shrapnel in his legs.

The end of his marriages and beginning of the next was a pattern of having affairs and being caught. His wife would ask for a divorce and within a few weeks he would be married again. In touring his house it was clear that he loved boats and being in the water. One typed note I read was a letter to a friend confessing he was broke and needed to make a certain amount from his current writing endeavor to cover the cost of the boat he had his eye on.

Another pattern of behavior with the wives was that each was richer than the last. He married into money and most of what we were touring was bought and paid for by the families of his wife. Besides his legacy of writing, he had 3 children (all boys) who have had a number of children of their own.

When the Hemingways sold the house it was bought by a woman who had the mind to keep everything “as-is” and that’s how we are still today able to see what his writing studio looked like including original furniature and typewriters. I got emotional seeing that. It was like an amazing pilgrimage for an aspiring writer to experience. Among the treasures preserved for future generations is something else he had an affinity for.. his six-toed cats.

He had a fascination with the six toed cat and had been given one at some point. He had other cats and they had litters and to this day the same line is being kept in the house. At present, there are 56 cats on the premises and each female is permitted to have one litter of kittens before being fixed. All are given famous peoples names in keeping with the tradition he started, naming them after some his favorite people, who were actors and actresses. Most of them have the six-toe trait. On the tour they were in almost every room of the house. Just laying around on the tables and chairs living a life of luxury.

The tour guide explained how they were cared for and how every night part of her job is helping to round them all up and get them to the kitty-cat condos which are in the back yard. People asked if they ever wandered off to which she replied, “no, they have it so good they never go missing”. If they wander off property, they always come back. That’s a lesson People, recognize when you have a good thing and don’t mess with it.

Hemingway lived a full life, and I can see how all the drama could lend itself to inspiration. At what cost though? What I did not know before the tour was that his mental suffering eventually led to depression and subsequently shock therapy treatment. He was only in his sixties when he ended his own life with a gunshot to the head. There’s another lesson there which I just don’t have the words for right now…


After that tour we did the lighthouse tour across the street and I was somewhat brought back to the reality of the day. Hey, did I mention it’s effing hot in Florida? Just walking around in that heat for an hour wears a person out and neither of us felt like more sight-seeing after that.

That afternoon we cooled off in the comfort of our AC before venturing out again to get my other vacation destination “must”.. a Key West Cheeseburger. Of course the area is teeming with fresh seafood and I’d already had several crab cakes, but my time on the island would not be complete without some cheeseburger experience. That deserves a post all its own so I’m going to save that one for later, but trust me when I say it was good.

So good in fact that I ate every last bit and ended up not being so hungry for dinner at the fancy place we had reservations for. Among all the days touring and eating was a fair bit of day drinking. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted and ready to finish the night off with one last cold one back at the condo. We sat on our patio watching a storm roll by in the distance. It was a nice ending to an incredible and satisfying day.

At every turn Jim has been making sure my every need has been met. I mean, all I had to do was say I wanted to find the best Cheeseburger on the island and he was immediately researching how to make that a reality. I feel a bit like those spoiled Hemminway cats. I know a good thing and intend to stick around… for as long as life will allow.

Feeling is Believing,

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-11-07 The Best and Worst of Maui

OK, folks, it’s the moment you have all been waiting for. All the best and all the worst of our little Maui adventure. (and yes, despite 8 days of awesomeness, there were definitely some “worst” moments). Eight days is a long time to try and remember everything. I’ve covered the highlight of each day, but I have not gone into a ton of detail about most of it and I definitely have not mentioned a few of the more “trying” moments…

Best Place that we stayed… This was a toss up. Ken’s place Kihei wins out over the Hana AirBnb for proximity to the Kam III beach which we went to several times. It was also nice that Kihei was walkable and had easy access to groceries, food options, and sort of “central” for driving to all the different parts of the island. The Kihei house was $100 a night and the Hana Home was about $300. However, Ken also let me have unlimited use of his “beach car”, which was a huuuuge bonus!

Worst place was the first AirBnb in Kihei. The roosters at 2AM made trying to sleep unbearable and though our “host” was very knowledgeable about the area and things to do, I found it a tad annoying he was there and seemed to want to chat when we crossed paths (since he lives at the house, it was quite often). That place was also about $100 a night.

Best and Worst Food/Meal.. Also a tough call. We had Stewz Maui Burger the first day we were there and it was awesome. I ordered the Kihei which was topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, 2 fried onion rings and bbq sauce on a sweet Hawaiian sweet roll. All of that was just under $10, not including fries. That entire meal cost about 30 with the kids’ food included. We actually thought it was so nice, we tried it twice. The second time was well below average (and we ordered practically the exact same food). This is the reason I’m going to give the “Worst” in the food category to Stewz and the “Best” to Coconuts Fish Cafe.

Yes, my kids don’t eat fish, so when we went to Coconuts it was mac and cheese and french fries for them. Actually, I’ve discovered that Z can live on french fries alone and C can do the same with mac and cheese. These were things they ordered at just about every restaurant. Coconuts was also so nice that we tried it twice. They are famous for their fish tacos and also reportedly had superb fish and chips. So I had to try both and both lived up to their reputation. I would highly recommend. A meal for the three of us was about $30 as well.

The runner up in the category for “Best”, would be “Three’s Bar and Grill” in Kihei. I had sushi and an appetizer of fried brussels sprouts. I also tried both the kid’s food (yes french fries, chicken fingers, and mac and cheese) and they were delicious as well. Three’s was also the most expensive dinner at. about $75, but we were all super hungry that day and totally ordered more than we could consume. I made the kids eat leftovers just like at home. I also ordered a drink and that was part of the $75.

The cheapest meal, not counting leftovers or groceries for breakfast and lunch, was probably the Sunset dinner on the grass with a $14 medium pepperoni pizza and a bottle of water. We did spend $20 on ice-cream after that, but when one scoop costs $5 without a cone or toppings, it adds up fast.

Best decisions.. Renting the Mustang ($200) and Helicipter ride ($600) were both totally worth it! The car I would do again. The helicopter was a little to $$$ to do again.

Worst decision.. Going off path on our Haleakala day to try and get to PoliPoli state park (we drove 1.5 hours out of our way and never actually made it). Runner up on this one was the yoga class I attended at 7AM, oceanside, one morning. I was attacked by bugs the entire time and I didn’t like the instructor or the way she conducted the class.

Biggest eeeek moment.. Walking into my bedroom in Hana and finding the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the “wild” on the ceiling. I definitely slept with one eye open (ok.. I may not have slept at all).

Best view.. Tough to pic the top one so I’ve picked three. In no particular order… 1.) The view from the Leleiwi Overlook on the way to the Summit of Haleakala. 2.) The view of the cliffs on the north coast of Moloka’i. 3.) Views from our drive up the east coast of West Maui (no single place on the map that I could pinpoint, but some of those were incredible).

Worst view.. The jet engine out my window on the plane from
MSP to Omaha.

Best day.. Really tough to pick. Probably the day we drove to Hana. Great car, everyone in a good mood, beautiful scenery, and a really fun drive.

Worst day.. Ironically, the day we drove back from Hana when it rained all day and we just wanted to get home, eat, and relax.

Best beach.. Ka’anapali, by Black Rock on the Sheraton property was my favorite. This is the beach where we saw the giant sea turtles, just passing through really close to the shore. The beach was free, but it cost $6 an hour to park there. The kids liked Kam III the best.. and it was the one we went to most because it was so close to the house.

Worst beach.. Hana Bay beach was the worst beach we stopped at (and did not swim). The least favorite of all the beaches was the one way down south past the gorgeous Wailea area. I’m actually not sure where we were at, if it was Mckenna beach or big beach or little beach. Several of the beaches in that area go by different names and we basically got to a spot that had parking and walked from there.

Wrong beach.. Napili Bay beach. This is the beach we went to when I wanted to go to Kapalua beach. Kapalua supposedly had great snorkeling. We had all the right gear but only saw sand.

Biggest rip off.. Snorkel Bob’s charging us $10 each for a one day rental of snorkeling gear (fins and masks). When we got back to Kihei that day, they were $1.50 a day at Boss Frog’s. And then free at Ken’s. If we would have known that we would have waited.

Biggest overcoming fear moment.. Me snorkeling. Overcoming my fear of drowning enough to have my head in the water for over a minute. It’s too bad we were at the wrong beach (see my previous comment) though we were in really calm waters and it was good that is where I had my “lesson”. If the water would have been rough, I may never have even tried it.

Biggest disappointment.. The seven sacred pools being closed when we arrived. Plus, we could not even get in the area without paying ANOTHER $25 to enter the national park.

Biggest regret.. I never did get to a black sand beach. There was one on the road to Hana and I should have taken the time and walked to get there and not been in such a hurry to get back on the road. There was also one south of Wailea but we just ran out of time. I also wish we would have packed towels for our Hana trip. We didn’t have enough time in the rental house to use theirs before we had to check out.

Best parenting moment.. Being huddled up in the freezing cold on top the volcanic valley waiting for the sun to set with my arms around my two beautiful children.

Worst parenting moment.. My daughter and I yelling at each other because she would not get off her phone to help me with directions when my phone battery died and it was pitch black on our way back from Haleakala. Somehow it was my fault for not telling her it was more important that she stop what she was doing to help. At the time, I had taken a wrong turn and we were clearly on the wrong road and there wasn’t even enough light for me to see a place to stop the car and figure it out.

Most emotional moments.. 1) Standing at the ocean at the Nakalele blowhole location. 2) Sunset at Haleakala. 3) Coming over the top of Moloka’i in a helicopter.

My don’t sweat the small stuff moment.. Losing my sunglasses on Haleakala.

Yes.. In the grand scheme of things my $8 pair of sunglasses will be easily replaced. As one can guess from following along, this was vacation was not a cheap one to go on. However, it was an amazing trip and the time I was able to spend with my children in one of the most beautiful places was priceless. It’s a moment in time, now in my history book, that will never happen again.

Sure, I may go to Hawaii again, but never with the kids at this age and in this stage of our lives. We are all so very fortunate to have had this experience.

Eia au Mahalo,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-11-03 Maui Day 5, The Hana Edition 🚘

Today we had our cake and we ate it too!

I have often said (and as recently as in the last couple of days) that life is about the journey and not necessarily about the destination. However, our day today proves that it can be BOTH.

When we woke up today the plan was to jump in the car and travel the Road to Hana. Similarly to all the other days of this vacation, we woke up when we woke up and spent a slow lazy morning relaxing, having breakfast, and preparing for the day.

Part of my morning routine has been to go through pics of the previous day, do some writing, and text people back home (morning is the best time because of the time difference). Today I actually called Simon and we chatted for a while. When I said I was considering renting a convertible for the drive to Hana today, he said “Go for it!” He also said “You should get a Mustang”.

Until that minute, it was just an idea I was toying with but he was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to search for rentals in Kihei as soon as I was off the phone. I actually found one and it was not nearly as expensive as I anticipated, so I went for it!

We didn’t really get outta town until about 11AM, which is par for this course, but it was not long until we were passing through Paia with the top down and the wind in our hair. Pretty soon, highway 36 became highway 360 and thats when the road gets really interesting and fun. Like the drive yesterday, it didn’t really seem that bad to me because of the conditioning I had going to the Nakalele blowhole. And this time, I was in a car that was built for speed and the curve of the road.

At first, we were trying to follow the guidebook which had suggestions for turnouts and secret places to stop and hike to see waterfalls, but about a quarter of the way, I abandoned that approach because I kept missing the mile markers and clues to stop. I don’t need to see some “secret” hideaway, I’m OK with stopping where everyone stops to see all the awesomeness that is completely obvious. And there was a lot of it.

There were cool things to see every couple of miles and cars stopped at a lot of them. Apparently a car stopped means there might be something worth seeing or doing because at one point, we randomly stopped at a fruit stand that had a vacant couple of spots where nobody was parked and within minutes, there were four cars beside us. Coincidence?! We stopped just to put on sunscreen. Ha!

Since the ocean was on the same side the entire drive, most of the turnouts were on that side and so not convenient for someone traveling east. As such, we didn’t stop at a ton of places and just tried to make a mental note to stop on the way back when the ocean-side turnouts would be easier. Be that as it may, we did still stop about a half a dozen times to see the view and take some snaps. We also stopped at a roadside stand called “Half Way to Hana” where C had his first taste of shave ice.. grape flavor.

After that he was amped on sugar and we were all in good spirits and we turned the tunes up and continued on the road. We arrived in Hana about 3:15PM and had to find a spot with cell service so I could get the instructions for our AirBnb. As such, we drove around the area for a bit and visited Haha Bay Beach and got our bearings for where things were in the town. There is not much to it.

Once we found and were into our Hana Home, the kids quickly took to the ping-pong table on the lanai. I let them play for a little bit before urging that we go grab food while the sun was still up. I brought some groceries, but it was mostly breakfast/lunch/snack type stuff and I felt the need for a well cooked meal. There are very few options in town for sit down restaurants and we opted to try the Hana Ranch Restaurant. It was slightly overpriced, but I paid just about as much as I did for dinner in Kihei last night. It actually would have been a lot cheaper, except C ordered a half rack of ribs (we are on vacation after all).

When dinner was over, we played outside for a bit and then I hit the local “market”. I took a pick of the price of milk. $12.49 for a gallon. Wowza!! I’m glad we didn’t really “need” anything.

Once we were back at “Home”, Z claimed her bed and C and I played a few more games of ping-pong (I won both). Of the dozen or so places we could have stayed, that was the thing that put this place over the top. It’s a longer walk to the beach, but the house and amenities are top notch. Right now, I’m typing from a desk area in the kitchen that overlooks the living area where the kids are also on their electronics. We are all pretty much ready for bed, but it’s only about 8PM.

I might do a little more research on the “Road” tomorrow so we can be prepared for things on the way back (but probably not 😉 ). We basically have all day to meander and play and like the rest of the days on Maui, I want to slow down and savor every moment. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am treating it as such.

Makemak Wau Keke,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-31 Maui Day 2 🏖️

Our second full day on Maui is coming to a close and though we had very similar activities to yesterday, the day felt very different.

Yesterday we visited two beaches near Kihei. It was very casual and we were just getting acclimated to the ocean waves. Today we travelled north and west and visited two more beaches, but this time, it was more upscale and had a completely different feel.

The first beach was Kaanapali beach which we gained access to through the Sheraton Maui resort. Our AirBnb host, Matthew, was the one who told us that even though the resorts own the property/land they occupy, the beaches can’t be owned by them and are always open for public access. What this means is that you have to walk through the resort to get to the beach. It kind of feels a little like trespassing, and you really have no idea who is a guest of the hotel and who’s just some random schmo walking in off the street.

Of course we did have to figure out where to park and they certainly don’t make that easy (or cheap). It was 2 bucks for every 20 minutes… yowza! I think of all the beaches we had been to thus far, this one was my fav. It would be a close call with Kihei Park III. We spent a couple of hours at this beach and then opted to leave in order to find a different place, where we could do some snorkeling.

We drove further north and I intended to go to Kapalua Beach on Kapalua Bay because it was in the top 5 list for snorkeling on Maui, but because I was trusting in the nav on my phone, I ended up at Napali Bay instead. We rented the snorkel masks and fins and made our way, which was again not an obvious path, to the beach. After much hassle with the eq we were finally in the water and trolling around and looking at a lot of sand. Z concluded that we were supposed to go way out to get to the cool stuff, but neither one of us was willing to do that.

C, who seemed to take most naturally to the snorkel, was happy as a clam (haha) staying right up in the waves crashing on the beach. He had no interest in seeing anything cool and just wanted to continue to feel tossed about on the shore. Unbeknownst to them, the whole snorkel thing was a really big deal for me.

I’ve had two “near death” experiences with drowning. I put that in quotes because I have no idea now near death I was. The first instance I was too young to remember and my dad can only shudder when the story comes up. The second instance was at the National White Water Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was not under long enough to become unconscious, but the entire experience was so traumatic for me, it does not really matter. It left me terrified to have my head under the water and and I have moderate fear when it comes to any water sports where 1)My feet can’t touch the bottom 2)I might not be in complete control of my surroundings. So when it comes to the ocean, you can just say I’m exponentially fearful of things that could happen.

Despite that, though, I was able to don that mask and almost regulate my breathing as I floated on top the water. I had to get over a lot of what felt like hyperventilating at first but I eventually was able to gain some composure and navigate around close to shore. However, as I stated, we were at the wrong beach and there was nothing to look at but sand. After just a little bit, we all got bored of the mask and fins and breathing apparatus and gave it up to just swim.

We swam at that second beach for about an hour and a half I think. I was not paying attention to the time at all today so I really have no idea how long we did each thing or even how long the drive was to get there. We did have to be back to Kihei in time to gather our things from the AirBnb and migrate to Ken’s place. His house will be home base for the rest of the duration of our stay here on Maui.

That’s actually where we are at now. I’m worn out from driving and the sun and the fact that there was not time for a nap today like there was yesterday. That makes a big difference. I would offer up opinions on which beach out of the four we visited was the best from both C and Z but they have both gone to sleep already. I’m sure I’ll be there too, as soon as my head hits the pillow. I need to get a good sleep because tomorrow is hiking on Haleakala seeing the sunset from the summit.

No Laila, Pule Hoola
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-30 Maui Day 1 🏖️

Today was a combo between total beach day, relaxation, and planning ahead.

This morning I made the kids breakfast and after that I spend a good hour or two planning out our week and talking to the homeowner of the AirBnb we are staying at who has lived here for four years and knows everything one should try to do.

After our somewhat lazy morning at the house, we put on our swim suits and headed out to find a beach. We drove down S. Kihei Road and once I was sure we had gone far enough, we turned around and went back north again and landed at Kamaole Beach Park 3.

We parked the car and grabbed our one beach towel each and headed down the ramp to the sand. My kids have been in the Pacific Ocean before, but never warm waters. We picked a spot and dropped our stuff and made a bee-line for the ocean. I’m not going to “sugar” coat this, it was pretty incredible.

We spend more than an hour jumping waves and letting the flow of the water crash onto us and cary us closer to the shore. We would get out a little to far, where the toes just barely touch, and then wait for a wave to ride and cary us in. Most people around us had little float boards they were using, but we didn’t have anything like that.

Most people also had umbrellas to sit under and we didn’t have that either so we had to stop and re-apply the sunscreen a couple of times. There is no way I’m going to risk ruining any time on this vacation with a sunburn or a child in pain because of a sunburn. It’s actually probably good that we quit when we did.

Our next stop was lunch because apparently the ocean makes people feel like they are starving. We elected to go to a burger place the host of the AirBnb told us about, Stewz. The food was good, as advertised, and if I have time for more writing, it really does deserve a post/review all it’s own.

After that it was back to the house for a little after lunch siesta. I was somehow worn out from the small amount of time we spent outside and actually fell asleep. I’m not sure how long I slept. I was woken up by Zoey asking when we were going to leave again. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to beach it up again, considering we had dinner plans with Ken at 6, but that is exactly what we ended up doing.

This time, we drove further down south to Makena beach. We did a repeat of the earlier wave jumping/riding right up to the point the sun was starting to set. I preferred this beach over the first one but I am not sure why. We had to leave before sunset to make dinner on time, which is totally against what I am all about, but meeting up with Ken and his family is a rare opportunity.

At about 6:30PM we met them at a restaurant called Coconuts. It’s a casual seafood place with top-notch fish tacos. The kids aren’t much into fish so they were not as excited about it as I was. We ate and chatted for a little bit and then they had to take off to do last minute prep for their own vacation. I could only eat one taco, by the way, because they were so loaded up with pure awesomeness.

Now we are back at the house. Our second and last night at this location. Tomorrow we migrate to Ken’s house. In my planning this morning, I earmarked tomorrow for spending more time down south at the resorts and beaches and potentially doing some snorkelling or kayak. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but based on my research I’m going to need to be extra diligent with time in order to fit seeing everything we can while also eating good food and taking plenty of naps.

Aloha Po,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-30 Waking Up in Maui 🌺

I woke up to the sound of roosters crowing. That was about 2AM. They have been at it off and on since then and it’s almost 6AM now. I think the kids are still sleeping though I can’t see how they could given the now almost constant crowing. We are very much in a local residential area and I knew there would be unfamiliar things, but I never expected that one. Still, I don’t care, because I’m waking up in Hawaii and that is seriously amazing!

We are staying at an AirBnb in Kihei (key-hey) which is on the west coast of the island. It feels warm and tropical and there’s no solid glass on the windows, just strips of glass like a set of blinds you can open and close so there is not a lot of separation from the nature and noise outside. The kids are in one room and I am in another. It’s a five hour time difference between here and home so it may only be 6 here but its 11AM in Nebraska.

When we arrived last night we got our bags and the car we are borrowing and made our way to get groceries, gas, and dinner. By the time we got to the house, it was only 8:30, but we had been up for over 20 hours and really done for. I think we were all asleep by 9. The time difference may affect things a bit, but if anything, we should be up and ready to roll when the sun comes up.

I’m not sure what is on the agenda for today. I intended to let them sleep in as long as they can to recover from the travel day yesterday and then we can look at the map and decide what’s next. We will most assuredly walk to the beach and jump in the ocean. We are also going to meet up with my friend and former co-worker, Ken, and his family for dinner. After these first couple nights at the AirBnb, we will be staying at his place and taking care of his house and cat while they are away on vacation.

He LIVES in Hawaii and is going somewhere else for a vacation. Doesn’t that seem just outrageous! 😃

Now that I am finally here and looking out a bedroom window at lush tropical plants bursting with flowers and feeling the difference in the air, it’s finally real. I made it!

I made it here and now I’m going to make the most of it. The sun is up now and the roosters have been joined by a whole host of other birds welcoming the day. It’s time for me to do the same.

Aloha Kakahiaka, 🌺
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-29 On the Move Again ✈️

We’ve been up since 5. We flew north to Minnesota. We laid over for 2.5 hours. 

And now we are on a 8 hour flight to Honolulu. I think this is the longest flight I’ve ever been on. Perhaps Dublin to Atlanta in 2010 was longer, but if was, it wasn’t by much. After this we have one more quick hop to Maui before being introduced to our new home away from home. 

So far the traveling has not been that bad. We pulled off the early morning and quick departure quite flawlessly and I was able to spend a good portion of our stay at MSP walking the concourse. 

I left Z and C at the gate watching our travel gear and went exploring. This airport has gone through major renovations since the last time I came through. So much space to plug in and sit, tons of shops and restaurants, and everything looks shiny and new.

I’ve amassed 8.4K steps so far today and managed to do 20 push ups (yeah, I’m that person). I also found the Rocket Mountain Chocolate Factory.. Score! I might be on a mission to improve my eating habits and health but I’m on vacation now so all bets are off. Life is all about balance anyway. 

I had another wave of happiness wash over me as I was bouncing down concourse C. This time last year I was convinced I would never feel this way again. That’s ridiculous of course, but it really was the way I felt. My logical brain knows emotions are temporary, but it does not minimize the pain as it’s happening. 

Likewise, this happiness, too, is fleeting. I have to soak in all that I can and not take anything for granted. I’m so fortunate to be able to go on this adventure. I’m so lucky to have two beautiful children to share it with. I’ve said before that the road to get here has seemed so long, but I finally feel as though I’m getting back to me. The me I know I am at heart and the me I was meant to be. 

I can’t look at the journal entries from last October 29th because we are cruising at 29,000 feet and there’s no free WiFi. It’s probably for the best. That might just interrupt such a nice flow. 


At this point, we’ve had water and snacks and water and lunch and more water. My crystal ball tells me there’s a trip to the bathroom in my near future. That’s always a treat on an airplane. 
After that.. I might try and nap. I’ve never been good at sleeping during flight, but it’s worth another shot.


We napped. We ate. We made it through flight 2 of 3. 
Me.. “Aloha everybody!”
C.. “Aloha. What’s the WiFi password in this airport?”
Z.. “Hakuna Matata. That’s Hawaiian right?”

Not Long Now,
~Miss SugarCookie