MEXICO: Girl's Trip

I've said before that it took me a while to like Texas. When we moved from California I was adamant that we wouldn't stay beyond two years. Eleven years later, I can't imagine leaving. But having grown up in Hawaii and California, there are times when I really miss the beach, and am grateful this is just a 2 hour flight away. 

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I used to go to dinner every week with these sweet girls. Then I'm not sure what happened. Work took over, I moved across town. There are a million excuses, but the truest reason I think, is that I just got out of the habit. Because as much as we love to see friends, you know it takes a certain level of commitment (at least for me) to wash, blow-dry my hair, and find something in my closet that isn't made of spandex… (workout clothes are only for the gym?) Anyway, the more time that passed, the more awkward it felt to email them and say, "hey, remember me your lazy friend who has been MIA for years? Can you put me back on the email list?" And not doing that turned out to be a dumb waste of time. Because real friends want to see you whenever you can make it, regardless of whether your hair and makeup is done. 

And I realized this again when I got a message on Facebook that turned into a lunch with everyone which turned into us planning a girls' trip to Mexico. 

It was fun and relaxing and just like no time had even passed. And having been on a few girl's trips by now, these are the things I've learned about them.

1. Groups of 8 or less are easier when it comes to the spa or activities or dinner reservations. But either way, call in advance to schedule everything. You may or may not end up going, but at least you have the option.

2. Do your own thing. If she wants sushi and you want tacos, just meet up again later. There's no pressure to stay together and/or try to control what other people do.

3. Bring your own music to the pool. There are tons of portable speakers that hook up to your iPhone. I always thought this was rude, because I didn't want to bother other people. But outside, it's hard to hear past the immediate area. And it makes your trip more fun if you have the music you like. 

4. Bring a vacation friendly book. One year, I don't know what I was thinking, but I brought Sarah's Key, a historical fiction book about the holocaust. There I was, on the lounge chair with my friends, bawling. No bueno. 

5. Take a nap when you need one (and you know you will). I'm bad at this because I never want to miss out on anything. But I've learned that whatever small thing I miss, pales in comparison to that refreshed feeling of waking up in a hammock on the deck. 

6. Also, take a nap in a HAMMOCK. Why has no one ever filled me in on The Joy Of This? The only ones I ever laid in before are the kind with a big bar across the top. You know the ones that seem like they're going to dump you on the floor? This one was like a cocoon, which I know in itself doesn't conjure images of ecstasy. Maybe more accurate would be to say it was like cocoon where George Clooney was rocking you to sleep and singing you lullabies. And now I want a George Clooney cocoon for my house, and maybe to take the place of my bed. 

We stayed at the Villa Del Palmar, which is was nice. Decent food, clean rooms, nice pools, beach and bar, and inexpensive. In fact, the whole trip from Monday-Thursday was $800 (all-inclusive with airfare). 

Oh wait! My last and best tip: If you have lost touch with a friend who you miss, but so much time has passed that it feels awkward to call them, JUST CALL. Or email. Or Facebook them. Or whatever. It is so worth it. 

This is the only picture we have of all of us, taken with my iPhone. Does anyone know how to fix white-eye (not red-eye)? I have been googling for apps, it seems to be an issue with the iPhone. And I would like to make Judy not look like the devil. 

This is the only picture we have of all of us, taken with my iPhone. Does anyone know how to fix white-eye (not red-eye)? I have been googling for apps, it seems to be an issue with the iPhone. And I would like to make Judy not look like the devil. 

(love you Judy, Tina, Misha, Courtney, Joi and my new friend Jill) 

 

Stanley Bay and I swear the last Hong Kong photos that I will inflict on you.

Stanley Bay was almost the last destination on the tour. We liked it enough that we just decided to stay. It was a nice break after being confined to cities for the whole week. Fun people watching, and probably my favorite part of the trip. Partly because who really needs more than a glass of wine and a view of the sea. And also because it was our last night after ten days, and I was ready to be home with the kids. Even though they were having the time of their lives with Grammy The Incredible who flew in from Kentucky to be with them. Don't know what we would have done without her. 

This Superkid volunteered to play, and a huge audience formed around him as he killed it on Stairway to Heaven and Sweet Home Alabama (which I will admit was surreal listening to, so far away from Alabama). I also realized, after seeing the group of teenage girls collect and swoon around him, that teaching your kid to play the guitar might be the most generous thing you can do for his future dating life. Or most dangerous… you pick. 

This is where we had dinner, and I'm sure overjoyed the waitstaff by the four hours we spent in one of their best seats on the upper deck. Damn tourists

I'm not sure, but I think Jason is posing for a Riunite commercial. Do you guys remember them? That's pure goodness, right there.

Great, that Riunite song is stuck in my head. And now I want to have a Riunite theme party.  

Hong Kong: Aberdeen Harbour

We started at Victoria Peak and the Stubbs Rd Lookout, which are supposed to have views that look like this and this. That day it looked like this.

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Which I think this is the norm, because the guide had clear-day photos with her to show everyone. Still pretty none the less. 

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Bamboo graffiti

Bamboo graffiti

They are serious about this… $200 USD fine if you do. 

They are serious about this… $200 USD fine if you do. 

After that, we went to Aberdeen Harbour and took a ride on a sampan. There was lots to see, including this Floating Restaurant, which has a pretty interesting history behind it. 

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Happy Tuesday! :)

Australia: Bondi Beach

One day, while Karen was visiting with her friend who lives in Sydney, I decided to grab a cab and venture out by myself to Bondi Beach to take pictures and smell the salt.

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A little ironic, given that we were there checking things off our Life List with  Go Mighty.

A little ironic, given that we were there checking things off our Life List with Go Mighty.

And I know there is something inherently wrong with wifi at the beach. But  WIFI. at the BEACH.

And I know there is something inherently wrong with wifi at the beach. But WIFI. at the BEACH.

Plus wine and a burger… it was the perfect little day. 

Plus wine and a burger… it was the perfect little day. 

Australia: Sydney

When we got to Sydney, Karen and I were trying to decide what other city it reminded us of. Then both areed, that it simply belongs to itself. There is no other city like it. 

We took a tour of the Opera House. The history of the building is really interesting. Like the fact that it was almost never made. The designer was a Danish architect named Jorn Utzon. He had originally just drawn some rough sketches onto a page, and it was thrown into the reject pile until they later happened to pull it back out as an option. From there, it took years to figure out how to build. But what an amazing icon.  

In Sydney, we also went whale watching. If you've never been, it's a little like a group of people at a movie theater if there were no seats and if no one knew which wall they were going to play the movie on. There is a lot of standing and looking and waiting. And then everyone gets all happy at once when you get to see this:

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or this: 

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In order to pass the waiting time, the tour guide/captain of the boat is sharing lots of  information about these incredible creatures. One thing remarkable that I remember, is that the females choose their mates by picking males that are either strongest or smartest. And one of the ways she determines how smart he is, is by singing a song to him that is unique only to her. Then he has to sing it back to her. I mean, how much do we love that. 

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Karen and I both felt compelled to take a picture of the boy who works on a whale boat, whose name was Jonas. Because obviously.

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And that's it for now. Tomorrow, Bondi Beach. :) 


Big huge thanks to Toursim AustraliaAir Newzealand, and Go Mighty for making this trip and these amazing memories possible. If you want to read about the goals I checked off my life list while I was there, click HERE

Australia: Hamilton Island 2

I love parasailing because it lets me pretend that I'm adventurous. The truth is that my idea of exploring nature is to bring a glass of wine to my back porch. And people who have gone parasailing know my secret: that it's actually the most non-scary, gentle lift off and landing. You get to feel like you're flying without jumping out of anything or remembering to pull a cord. All you have to do is sit there, and that is what I specialize in. So whenever I'm on vacation in a tropical type place, I try to do it. Because I am super adventurous like that. 

Unrelated: nothing like a photo of yourself to reveal your holy-way-too-light-highlights-batman. 

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These were all taken with my little waterproof Olympus Tough. But Hailey was so adventurous that she actually brought her real camera. In case you were wondering, tampons are the official way to make sure your waterproof case is working. 

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A few images from a meal we had at Romeo's Italian restaurant. Dinner with photographers is fun.  

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Beautiful Hailey

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The people who worked there kept telling us about the incredible sunrises. So one morning I decided to take advantage of my jet lag and get up early to see it. I might have been a little too ambitious about it. Note to yourself when you do this: do not wake up at 3:30am. There will not be a big crowd you have to fight for a good picture. There will only be this. 

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And this. 

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And this.  

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And then your driver will ask you three times if you're really sure you want to do this. And you will say, yes of course, because you are adventurous. And then he will leave you alone in the cold, darkness of the wild Australian outback. And you will hear something rustling in the bushes and it will remind you that everything in Australia wants to murder you. Which will force you to non-skype call your husband for six thousand dollars a minute: 

"Honey, I'm all alone in the outback. It's cold and dark and I hear animals." 

"... Wait, what?" 

"Tell the kids I love them. And thanks for being such a good husband over all these years. Don't ever get remarried. Okay, you can, but just wait at least a year." 

"What?! Where are you and why are you alone?" 

"I came to watch the sunrise, because I am adventurous. But it's a little too early (by maybe an hour or more), and no one is here and now I'm probably going to die on this picnic table." 

"Wait... you're on a picnic table? What else is around you?" 

"Well, besides all the deadly animals and poisonous snakes and spiders and baby-devouring dingos, there is one gazebo."

"oh my god, so you're sitting at a picnic site next to the resort? Maile, you are fine."

And you know what? Eventually I was fine. And you will be too, because you are a fighter and a trail blazer and you never give up on things.

And also next time you will set your alarm for two hours later.  

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And after the sun comes up,  you might become so excited that you get completely lost walking back. But you won't care because for the rest of the day, you will feel like the sun for at least those 12 (or-so) hours, kinda belongs to you.

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As you might imagine, there are a million places to see a fantastic sunrise or sunset on Hamilton island. These were taken at One Tree Hill.  


Big huge thanks to Toursim AustraliaAir Newzealand, and Go Mighty for making this trip and these amazing memories possible. If you want to read about the goals I checked off my life list while I was there, click HERE

1st Goal Completed!

I've been in Australia for a week, today. Karen and I are having the best time ticking items off our life lists. I posted about my first goal (Hugging a Koala) here, if you care to read about it.

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Will post more as I can throughout the week. You can also see everyone's adventures on twitter or instagram by following #goaustralia and #gomighty.