Aloha! Friday Favorites – Hawaii

Happy Friday!  I have been absent for a long time – life just got in the way and I haven’t devoted the time to the blog.  For today’s edition of Friday Favorites, I wanted to share some stories and photos from our recent trip to Hawaii.  Hawaii is one of our all time favorite places; this was our second trip, and God willing, will definitely not be our last.  We have only visited the island of Oahu, which we love.  Next time we may try a couple days on another island, but we love Oahu so much, we will always keep going back there.  The above pic is the view from our room at the Trump International in Waikiki, truly an iconic beach.

Imagine our surprise when we came across these Hawaiian Monk Seals while walking on the beach one morning!  They are endangered and therefore you are not allowed to approach them, and the beach patrol sets up cones to establish a safe perimeter.  We ended up seeing them each day in Waikiki, and being animal lovers, this was definitely one of the highlights!

We really enjoyed the hotel at night also.  The view looking back towards Honolulu with all the lights was breathtaking.  The lounge was also lovely, open air with great happy hour specials.  Those wasabi peanuts were the bomb!

Instead of getting big sit down dinners, we opted to graze our way through various places, taking advantage of happy hour specials, on both beverages and appetizers/small plates.  We visited the Oahu location of Maui Brewing Company, which had great live music and the wonderful island breezes coming through the open air venue.  We also discovered “frozen” beer, Kirin to be exact.  This is a glass of Kirin (a Japanese beer) topped with basically a Kirin slushy.  This was a fun twist on a glass of beer, and the happy hour price was great.

I thought this Crown & Ivy top with pineapples was perfect for a Hawaiian trip!  The colors and pattern fit in perfectly with the tropical vibe of the island.  This particular top is sold out, but they have so so many cute tops, many on sale, so please check it out if you are still looking for some additions to your summer wardrobe.

The time came to check out of the Trump International and move on to our next location.  For our last morning, we got up early, took a long walk around Waikiki, and ordered room service breakfast to enjoy on our balcony, taking in that view one more time.

Enroute to our next destination, we went to Kualoa Ranch, for a horseback ride!  We had pre-booked this, and it was well worth every penny.  The one-hour tour went up on the ridge above the ranch, and had amazing views of the ocean and Chinaman’s Hat.  The guides were very friendly and patient, and the horses well-trained and basically knew the routine with very little guidance.  Kualoa Ranch offers many different types of tours, including a movie set tour that highlights some of the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World filming sites.  Afterwards, we made our way up to the North Shore, another area of Oahu we love.  The sleepy surf town of Haleiwa has fun little surf and souvenir shops.  And of course, no trip to the North Shore would be complete without a stop at one of the shrimp trucks!  The second pic above is the view we had while eating a plate of traditional North Shore shrimp and rice for lunch.

Finally we reached our “home” for the rest of the week, Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa, located in the Ko ‘Olina area of the town of Kapolei.  We are Disney Vacation Club members, and Aulani is a property included in the DVC program (you can also stay on cash if you aren’t members).  It was also our second time here, and it was just as beautiful as we remembered.  The pool area is simply spectacular, and the entire grounds are meticulous.  One of my favorite features is the Koi pond located near the open air Olelo Lounge.

We enjoyed having breakfast with Mickey and Minnie at Makahiki, the buffet restaurant at the resort.  It is so fun to enjoy some Disney magic in such a beautiful location.

And who can resist Hawaiian shave ice with Mickey ears!  Enjoying it overlooking the beautiful private lagoon makes it that much better.  I think it is a known fact that any food shaped like Mickey automatically tastes better!

Unfortunately, all too soon it was time to head home to North Carolina.  We again got up early and took a long walk around the Ko ‘Olina development, seeing the other resorts and marina.  This picture is from the lagoon, looking back towards Aulani.

I know this was a long post, and if you made it here to the end, thank you!  Trust me, I had a hard time keeping it this short, as there were so many great experiences and photos, it was difficult to narrow it down.  If you have visited Hawaii, you know what I am talking about, and if you haven’t, what is keeping you from going?

Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend

Hello! I’ve been a bit AWOL since the holidays, just a lot going on. I didn’t want to miss the chance however to tell you about the amazing weekend I just had. We just returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend that takes place every January-this was year 26. Full disclosure-neither my husband nor I ran the full marathon, but we did participate in other races. The weekend offers a 5K on Thursday, 10K Friday, half marathon Saturday, and full marathon on Sunday. If you are especially ambitious, you can also do the Goofy Challenge, running the half and full, or the Dopey Challenge, which is ALL FOUR RACES. Hubs ran the 10K on Friday, and I am so proud of him! He typically chooses other forms of exercise rather than running, but he trained very hard and ran the entire distance.

Approaching the finish line, in the red shirt!
Showing off his hardware!

Saturday I ran the half marathon, and it was by far my favorite race of all time. Coming around the corner onto Main Street USA and seeing the castle was such a great moment, I actually got a little choked up. Running is very emotional for me anyway, for a variety of reasons, and being able to participate in this event was so special. The motto of the race weekend is “Every Mile is Magical” and I could not agree more. All along the course, even when not in a theme park, there is music, photo ops, spectators, signs of encouragement, and so much more. The volunteers are amazing, tirelessly handing out water and cheering everyone on. And Disney does an amazing job of keeping everyone organized and in the right place at the right time. I was a little nervous about making my way by myself from the resort to the starting area at 4:00 AM, but had no reason to be-everything ran like clockwork and there were both cast members and volunteers to guide you every step getting into the right start corral.

The most amazing sight!
Each mile marker played music that corresponded with the movie represented!
Not my actual time! The time represents the gun time, and I was 3 corrals back from the start.
I was sad the experience was coming to an end, but my legs were happy to see the finish line!

If you love running and/or Disney, I highly recommend participating in an event. You can read all about them at https://www.rundisney.com. I think I could write a book about this experience, how wonderful and magical it was, and how much of an effect it had on me. This was truly an experience we will both remember forever, and we are already thinking about when we might be able to do it again! I’m happy to answer any questions about the event, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday Favorites-Blowing Rock

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has had a good week and is ready for the weekend. We have a couple activities planned; we’ll be spending Saturday morning buzzing around Winston-Salem while our car gets serviced at a dealership there, then watching the Buckeyes in the afternoon, and finally wrapping up the day at the Greensboro Swarm game, our local G-League team for the Charlotte Hornets. Whew, I think we might find some time to relax and catch up on chores on Sunday.

In today’s installment of Friday Favorites, I want to share one of my favorite places in North Carolina, Blowing Rock. Blowing Rock is a little town in the mountains right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it is absolutely beautiful. There are so many restaurants, a local brewery, and adorable shops with some really unique items. We can be there in 2 hours from our house, so it is an easy day trip, but there are inns and B&Bs also, and we think it would be enjoyable to stay the night sometime.

We stopped first at the Cone Manor. I won’t bore you with a history lesson, but it was the mountain home of Moses Cone, a prominent figure where I live and a textile magnate in the late 1800s. If you have any interest in reading about him, here is the link. The photo below of the manor is a stock pic, but the view from the front is one I took. It is easy to see why Mr. Cone picked this spot; the view from the home is truly breathtaking.

They also offer horseback riding around the many acres of the property. Of course being animal lovers we had to stop and pet the horses and snap a few pics!

After leaving the Cone estate, we proceeded into town. Starving by this point, the first order of business was to find lunch! We have tried a different restaurant each time we have visited Blowing Rock, and this time we opted for Six Pence Pub. The atmosphere was festive and lively, with college football on the TVs and really delicious sandwiches and French fries. Highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Blowing Rock, or the other cities shown on the placemat.

After lunch we headed out to do some shopping, and of course picked up a few unique items to take home, along with a new magnet for hubby’s collection. No afternoon in Blowing Rock, not even a chilly one, would be complete without a stop at Kilwin’s! This is a chain ice cream and candy store, with many locations, but a waffle cone is a tradition for us when we visit BR.

On the way out of town on the parkway, we stopped at a couple of outlooks to snap some pictures. I can never get enough of those beautiful mountain views. The leaves were a bit past peak at this elevation, but it is still magical to look out over the vista. It was a clear day and we felt like we could see forever.

If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to visit Blowing Rock, please do so. Some sections of the parkway do shut down in the winter, so if you plan to visit at that time of year, make sure you check the weather and plan alternate routes. Once there, you will not be disappointed.

Hope your weekend brings you whatever you desire, be it adventure or relaxation. Thank you for reading, stop by next week for another episode of Friday Favorites!