Jess and I got to spend some time with my family at the outer banks including my sister and her family who flew in from the west coast. We got a fair bit of rain, but made the most of the beach days.
I also go to do some paddle boarding – the first two days on the ocean where I saw dolphins swimming around. The second two days were in Kitty Hawk Woods Reserve on some of the canals and marshes there.
On the last day, Jess and I drove down the island, did some shopping and visited Sam & Omies for lunch before the drive home.
Jess and I got away for a long weekend of visiting Harper’s Ferry and celebrating our two year wedding anniversary. Harper’s Ferry was the site of an armory and where two rivers converge. It was the site of Civil War battles and just across the Potomac was a canal. It’s also directly on the Appalachian Trail with a lot of hiking right from town into the three states that all converge there – WV(where Harper’s Ferry is), MD across the Potomac River and VA across the Shenandoah River.
On the way up we visited a couple of wineries including Stone Tower Winery and 868 Estate Winery. By evening we made our way to Harper’s Ferry and checked into our AirBnb just a couple blocks outside of the main downtown area. We went for a walk around town and found The Rabbit Hole for dinner.
Harper’s Ferry has very little parking in the town. There a little bit at the train station, but most people park just outside of town and take the shuttles in. Those shuttles don’t start running until 9am, so we found it advantageous to get out of our AirBnb just before then each morning to get breakfast or see things before anything was crowded.
The next morning we ventured by car to the Country Cafe for a diner-style tasty breakfast. We returned to town and by mid-morning we set about hiking up Maryland Heights – a out and back trail about 5 miles round trip and took us around 2.5 hours. It started by crossing the river and then taking us up a hill that overlooked the town and the confluence of the rivers there. Thankfully we went early before it got too hot and before more people were on the trails.
In the evening we wanted to go out to a nice dinner, but some of the places we had looked at were closed or not good choices for us for various reasons. We had a place picked out in Frederick MD – about 30 minutes away only to find it closed for a private event. So we explored the area and found a tapas place that could seat us after a short wait. It ended up being fantastic.
Saturday we started our day exploring Harper’s Ferry the town and seeing all of the historical buildings and museums. We also checked out the shops and had lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the river. The town certainly has an interesting history and it was neat to see how it evolved over the couple hundred years since it was settled and as it was utilized for different purposes. Once we had seen all there was to see, we went for a short hike along the Shenandoah River that took us up to Jefferson Rock and then we came down through Virginius Island. That was 2.1 miles and took us just about an hour.
We got some time to enjoy the front porch on the AirBnb and then had dinner at Isabella’s pizza – knowing they had a gluten free option that was pretty good. Our final stop for the evening – was a ghost tour of Harper’s Ferry that started at the church just down the street from our AirBnb. Being just a week before Halloween there was a very large crowd making it a little hard to move through town and hear anything other than just the spiels at each of the stops.
On Sunday we hit the gift shop in town and then got on the road to drive down Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. We weren’t the only ones with this idea and by the time we arrived around noon it took us nearly 45 minutes of waiting in a line of cars to get through the gate. Once we were in traffic moved and we were able to mostly stop where we wanted. We picked one hike to the top of Stony Man which went about 1.72 miles and just under an hour. It was a nice view, though crowded. We finished the 3/4 of skyline drive we haven’t previously driven before turning for home.
Jess and I have been fond of taking a winter ‘thaw out’ trip ever since we went to Cancun back in 2019. We had obviously wanted to take this kind of trip the last two years, but the COVID-19 pandemic ruled that out. So we planned to go back to the same resort we visited in 2019, this time in February. The omicron variant kept us from pulling the trigger in February and we were finally able to go in March.
We left on St. Patrick’s day, the trip to Cancun was relatively uneventful until we got into the immigration line to get into Cancun. There were lines everywhere overflowing out of the hall and once we eventually figured out where one ended, it took about 50 minutes to wait through it and be admitted. Next stop was to find our van which took a little looking and once we found the company the needed to call another van that would have enough gas to get us to our destination.
Finally at the resort (TRS Yucatan) we checked in and went to our room, sat on the porch and I did some walking. It wasn’t long before dinner and we went to the steak place for dinner before retrieving some margaritas from the bar and retiring to the hot tub on the porch of our room for the night.
Friday was our spa day. We got a couples massage followed by some time relaxing at the spa pool. It’s one of our favorite pools because its a quiet zone and great for relaxing and reading. We left the spa for lunch and came back to continue relaxing around the pool and enjoying the hydrotherapy area. We tried to get a picture of us, but the teenagers in the pool didn’t know how to operate the point-and-shoot camera we had with us.
Saturday was our beach day. I started with a run in the morning and staked out a bed while Jess hit up a yoga session. We hung around the beach bed until mid afternoon leaving only to find some fish tacos in one of the family resort areas of the resort nearby. We went for a dip in the ocean at one point. On the walk back to our room we explored the other pools and found the ‘secret’ one. We spent the later part of the evening at the pool next to our building and then went to the Italian restaurant for dinner and had some gluten free pizza.
Sunday started with some Yoga and after breakfast we found a bed at the pool by our building. We found tacos for lunch and hung around until the late afternoon when it really became sweltering there and retreated to the air conditioning in the room. In the evening we went to the french restaurant and brought our own bottle of wine. We took the ‘train’ to the other resorts on the property to check out a few of the other bars before returning for the night.
Monday was our last day of paradise that started with breakfast followed by COVID tests in order to be let back into the US. We hung out at the White Sands pool and the swim up bar for a bit before heading back to the infinity pool for tacos and a bed we found. We had a great dinner on the beach, packed our bags and enjoyed the room hot tub one last time.
Tuesday was our day to travel back. Our van was late and ran into traffic (a construction strike outside the airport) and were even later getting to the airport. That wouldn’t be a problem as our inbound plane wasn’t able to get to us due to storms where it was coming from. We would miss our connection and require a longer layover at IAD and a late flight back to Richmond, but at least we were able to get upgraded to first class on both flights.
All in all it was a great trip and nice to be away from the usual and enjoy some sun.
We got to visit Palm Springs California with my family to celebrate and anniversary and meet my niece for the first time. Despite some travel delays getting there we had a great time catching up with my sister and her family who live on the west coast and enjoying all being around a big house with a pool we could hang out in.
Some of us took a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park and did the long drive from one end of the park to the other through the valley and stopping to visit various sights along the way.
Some of us visited a spa while others checked out the sights in the town.
We had a great weekend catching up and celebrating!
In September, for our one year anniversary Jess and I took our long awaited ‘big’ honeymoon trip to Maui, Hawaii. We left Richmond on Friday the 10th and thankfully the most trouble we would have on the whole trip would happen in the first hour. After a scheduled Lyft didn’t show and we could get any other ride share at 5 in the morning, we drove ourselves to the airport and entered the self park. We then immediately lost the parking ticket down the dashboard vent and had to get let out of the parking area to be let back in with a new ticket. All of that didn’t leave a lot of time to spare, but we made it in time and would have an otherwise uneventful flight connecting with one stop in Denver where we completed all of the COVID pre-screening necessary to be allowed into Hawaii without quarantine.
We arrived in Maui mid-afternoon and picked up a red 2-door Jeep, did some grocery and supply shopping and checked into the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa at Black Rock for 10 nights. After settling in the room we walked along the beach walk to the mall at Whaler’s Village and picked up some tacos to take back to the room and eat as the sun was setting and saw what would end up being the prettiest sunset of the trip.
Saturday and Sunday we mostly stayed around the resort. We hung out at the pool or the beach, checked out some nearby restaurants, did some snorkeling and Jess even did a lei making class. Sunday night we went to a very nice dinner at Merriman’s.
Monday was another day of mostly hanging around the resort, sleeping in and going snorkeling. We saw the sun set on the the beach at a park north of our resort, and picked up food from food trucks to have in our room.
Tuesday was to be a marathon day of flying to the island of Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and Waikiki. We made the very early drive to the airport in Maui and took a 30 minute flight to the island. We went straight to Pearl Harbor where we had intended to take a boat out to the USS Arizona, but we had found out the week prior that one of the docks was damaged and they were not running tours. We saw what we could and talked to a park ranger about the family member of a family friend who died in the attack on the Arizona and learned some interesting history of his.
Our next stop was to find some great sushi and even the Uber driver was surprised when we asked to be dropped off in Chinatown where we had to find our way to a poke vendor in the back of a market. It was worth it and was the best poke we had on the trip. Our next stop was the Bishop Museum which was a cultural museum chartered in the 1880s. There were a lot of interesting cultural artifacts there especially since the museum was collecting them well before Hawaii became a territory and later a state. Our final stop on Oahu was Waikiki beach where we walked through one of the old hotels, the Surfrider, and had a drink at their bar on the beach. We also walked along the beach and saw the Duke Kahanamoku statue. We had dinner nearby where we had some of the best Mai Tais of the trip and took the last flight of the night back to Maui followed by the 45 minute drive to the resort and were in bed just before midnight.
After a busy Tuesday, Wednesday was to be a relaxing day. Jess booked a spa treatment up the road at the Ritz Carlton and after I dropped her off I went exploring and hiking along the north-west coast of Maui. In the evening we went to a nice restaurant in Lahaina.
On Thursday we decided to try snorkeling at a beach in the South Maui resort area. Only by the time we got there the water was stirred up and not very good for snorkeling. We found another good poke place and picked up some Hawaiian spices to take home and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool at our resort.
Friday was our day to drive the road to Hana. This has been a bucket list item for Jess since long before we met and was one of the highlights of our trip. Coming from Kaanapali we had to get up very early to start the drive in time to take in some of the sights along the way. We ended up driving straight through and arriving at the Kipahulu national park around 9am. We hiked the Pipiwai trail and saw Waimoku Falls -a 400′ tall waterfall at the end of a trail through a bamboo forest among other things.
After the trail we worked our way in reverse on the Road to Hana making our way back north and east stopping at sights along the way. We were in Hana for lunch at a food truck where Jess had a ‘plate lunch’. Just North of Hana was the Black Sand Beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park where we had an early afternoon reservation. The volcanic formations around this beach were breathtaking and the dark black rock against the luscious greenery was incredible. The beach was neat despite being very small. The water was a bit rough and not great swimming for those who tried it. After exploring a bit more of the park we made our way back to the car and stopped at a few more stops along the Road to Hana as we made our way back to the more populated part of the island and eventually on to our resort area.
Saturday was another day of hanging out at the resort. We had dinner at a sushi place in Lahaina and then visited the Lahaina Yacht Club for a drink.
Sunday Jess wanted to see some of the sights I had seen earlier in the week along the north west part of the island. Unfortunately, the ocean waves were a lot rougher making it harder to get close to the blow hole or the pools. On our way back we stopped at the Honolua Bay Marine Reserve and went snorkeling with turtles.
Monday was check out day after a fabulous time in Maui. We made one last stop at the sugar plantation museum on our way back to the Airport. This history and impact on the island on the sugar plantations was fascinating.
The island ended up being exactly what we wanted for this trip – enough of a resort to not to have to leave, but with enough stuff nearby we could explore a variety of places to eat and things to do. Maui had a wide diversity of beaches, shopping, history and hiking and we didn’t even cover everything in 10 days with our relaxed schedule. Our overnight flight landed in Chicago very early in the morning where we waited for our mid-morning flight to Richmond and were home by early afternoon.
On our final day we got Lobster Rolls in Muscongus Bay before making the drive to Portland where we checked out the Portland Head Light before catching our flight home. Driving through Portland – we were surprised at parts of it reminded us of the architecture in Church Hill in Richmond. It was certainly a fun trip and thanks to Laurie and John for having us along and showing us around!
Saturday took us on a ferry trip to a island just off the coast called Monhegan Island. The island is a fishing village a couple miles off the coast and is 1.75 miles long by .75 mi wide and has just 60 year round residents. In the summer a number of inns and rental houses have many times that staying there. The island draws everything from day trippers like us to artists who come for the summer for inspiration.
The ferry took about an hour and was a little breezy on the top deck. When we got to the island we walked through ‘town’ and hiked along the south and east coasts. We saw rock shorelines, a ship wreck and cliffs.
Hiking back through the middle of the island we went past a beautiful light house and had a gorgeous view of the inhabited side of the island.
We walked through a little more of the town and stopped at Monhegan Island Brewing before catching the ferry back at the end of the day.
Friday took us to Acadia National Park where we hiked Jordan Pond and Bubbles. We wanted to go up Cadillac but didn’t have a reservation and were tuned away. We stopped by Sand beach and hiked to Thunder Hole and back.
For dinner we went into Bar Harbor and had a great meal, some Ice Cream on the waterfront and checked out some of the shops.
The day after our wedding Jess and I headed to Warm Springs Virginia for a short honeymoon. We had grand plans to leave the country for a beach on an island that would some day be underwater but with COVID we didn’t want to leave the state. That lead us to a few days at the Omni Homestead. It is a beautiful property in the mountains and were upgraded to a corner suite in the tower on the 20th floor (10 floors above ground) that had great some great views. On the way out there we stopped in Staunton to visit friends Mark and Melissa who weren’t able to attend the wedding. The suggested a cool pizza join in Staunton for dinner. Staunton had closed one of the main roads downtown and all of the restaurants had seating in the streets. It almost had a European vibe to it.
We spent the first day exploring the grounds, relaxing at the socially distanced pool and having dinner at the restaurant. I went for a late morning trail run and startled a baby bear along the path.
The next day we left the property to do a hike about 10 miles away at Douthat State Park. To get there by car we had to go over/around a mountain and it took over an hour on some pretty rural roads. Early in the hike we both spotted 3 baby bears and a mother crossing our path. We were on high alert the rest of the hike. We made our way up to the top of a mountain, past a waterfall, along the ridgeline and then back down. There were a few beautiful views and some great terrain. Much of the trail looked to be seldom used and we had to do some bushwacking in parts.
That evening we got takeout from a restaurant in town and ate in our room.
The next morning we ate breakfast on the porch in the rocking chairs and started making our way home. We stopped at Pollock winery for a bit and then to Bold Rock to resupply some of the ciders we can’t get in Richmond and tried some others while sitting in chairs down by the creek.