Big Island Hawaii Summer 2013: Volcanoes National Park

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Did you know? The Hawaiian Archipelago is the most geographically isolated group of islands on Earth. Suhweet!

We made our way to Hilo from Kona and stopped at their farmer’s market held twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays 6:00 am – 4:00 pm.
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Bought some homemade green papaya salad and avocado spring rolls for after our hike at the park.

Continued up the Volcanoes National Park which contains the world’s most active volcano: Kīlauea, home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess.

Entrance Fee: $10/vehicle

First stop was the visitor’s center where we grabbed a map of the park and a good itinerary for seeing the best of the park in around 4-5 hours with some driving and a 2 hour hike.
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A quick drive down was our next stop: the Jaggar Museum and the view of the Caldera.

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One of the park rangers explained the formation of the caldera and how the volcanic explosion created different aspects of the national park, like the Thurston lava tube and the lava lake, then she showed us how although all volcanic rock is made of the exact same composition, the cooling and reheating of the lava creates many different shapes, densities and colors.
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This type has olivine deposits, which essentially created the green sand Papakolea beach on the Big Island, only one of two in the world, but unfortunately hard to get to unless you rented a car with four-wheel drive.
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Driving back towards the official area to view the steam vents, we weren’t super impressed as most of them were surrounded by guard rails and park officials telling us not to throw in coins. Mostly another view of the caldera with gorgeous wild orchids in the fields. The steam vents in the lava lake are way more thrilling, and you can stand right next to them (and/or stick your hand over the vents like I did and have an eery realization that you’re standing over a super mega active volcano…)

Drove on to the parking lot for the Kilauea Iki trail and took the loop to the right away from the Thurston lava tube, about 4 miles and really pretty steady until the hike up to the lava tube. We were so lucky to have the sunshine shining in while we hiked in the jungle, then the rain started literally as we reached the car to head back. Lots of fun, well reviewed and for sure a fabulous 2-3 hour hike/walk.
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view from the parking lot into the lava lake
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into the jungle for the beginning and end
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into the old lava lake
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way better and more colorful steam vents, really think about what’s happening in the earth right under your feet… then try not to freak out😉
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the park ranger called these “hawaiian cranberries” and she ate a few in front of me, so then I ate some and didn’t die, and then I ate some more. not that I advise eating wild red berries, but yeah.
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then up the jungle into the Thurston lava tube, totally worth the hike up! lots and lots of fun with great weather, we were so lucky!

meowmeow,
Kat

Big Island Hawaii Summer 2013: Ziplining and Botanical Gardens

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Where else would ziplining be a totally fantastic idea but in the flowering and super green jungles of the Big Island??

ziplinereadyzipline ready! nice, sturdy gear; fun, friendly and knowledgeable staff.

We used Zip Isle zipisle.com/ but instead of the $147, we managed to find a groupon (they run them every couple of months) for $79! hell ya. Family owned and operated by a brother and sister, this place was fabulous, with not just ziplining but well kept botanical gardens and a huge hedge maze.

beyond gorgeous grounds… zipline3

probably the most terrifying part of the entire thing… but only because i was holding my loose zipline and my camera in the other hand… straight drop down into the river😉ziplinebridgeview from the finish line after a fierce (heh) zipline competition. CANNONBALLLLL…zipline2

ohhhh so this is how far i’ll be traveling this week🙂 hawaii-houston-dallas-paris baby!zipline4

after about 2 hours ziplining we headed back to the visitors center for a map of the grounds, then took a walk on the Rainbow Walk through their beautiful botanical gardens…lizardfriendwhere we met this little guy❤

and couldn’t stop ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the gorgeous flowers…purpleygoodness

and rainbow eucalyptus trees!! rainboweucalyptus

then after finally making our way through the fun maze in the gardens, we hopped in the car down the road to view a waterfall from a lookout point…waterfalleythere were other paths to the river and through their arboretum but we were starving and drove down to Tex drive-in for some chocolate and bavarian malasadas and loco moco xxtexdriveinanother amazing day in paradise😉

meowmeow,

kat

Big Island Hawaii Summer 2013: Pololu Valley

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Took the Kohala Mountain Road from Waikoloa, Route 250, up the Kohala mountain for some amazing views and awesome climate variations

route250Continued right on route 270 to Pololū Valley, Hawaii 96755pololu valleyThen headed down the trail…pololuvalley2attempted to take pics on the edge of the cliff…pololuvalley3made it to the jungle at the bottom…pololuvalleyand made our way down to the beautiful black sand beach…pololuvalley4played with some lava rocks…pololuvalley5and made our way back up the path, saying goodbye to the amazing natural beauty of Pololu Valley.pololu6back in the car on route 270 to the town of Hawi to Kohala Coffee Mill for the famous Tropical Dreams homemade ice cream! So delicious and 5 bucks for a big bowl, completely deserved after such a long hike😉 macnut was my favorite. ooh and salted caramel…tropicaldreamsand then goodbye ice cream as we take 270 all the way back to waikoloa…9356943338_f3e1ba6e17_bfabulous!

meowmeow,

Kat

Chicago Summer 2013: Logan Square Sunday Market

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If there’s two things I universally love about summertime and all the splendor the warmth brings, it’s food and picking out said food by perusing local markets. Visiting a wonderful girlfriend for the weekend in Chicago almost always brings me to this place: Logan Square’s Sunday Market.

imageWe started our morning with one hour of free yoga offered at 10am in the soft grass beside the Sunday market. Bring a towel or the instructor may have extra mats.

imageContinued on smelling the fresh summer bouquets

imageand eyed the full colors of ripened cherries and summer fruits

imagelistened to some lively folk music

imagedebated snacking on some mini puffs of doom

imagebut decided on sneaking a taste of  some amazing snocones with homemade syrups ike cherry thyme and rhubarb

imagewaited patiently for our hand cranked snocone

imageand people watched the locals, hippies and yuppies😉

very lovely morning in the shade and delicious brunch down the street at the Rocking Horse with amazing hollandaise sauce with my steak and poached eggs. Heavenly!

Meowmeow,
Kat

Chicago Summer 2013: Bike Tour with Bobby’s Bike Hike

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Booked a tour a couple months ago for a 3 hour lakefront bike tour with the well reviewed Bobby’s Bike Hike and had a blast! 35 bucks/30 for students for a very well planned and well put together ride with a 12-15 person group led by fabulous and friendly Daisy. The hybrid bikes were comfy and felt expensive, as well as thoughtfully named (we rode rupert and ron burgundy ;)).

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Riding through beautiful gold coast neighborhood into old town.

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Break time on the terrasse with fresh flowers, a fabulous skyline view and a carafe of tasty sangria😉

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Ooh la la the famous kissing bridge near the free Chicago zoo

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Break for skyline photos before the long stretch of bike path around the lake

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Following the lakefront path back to the bike shop.

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Under the bridge onto the canal back to the shop.

We took the opportunity to continue renting the bikes for 10 bucks for around 3 hours to and from the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park and Millenium Park via the Lakefront Bike Path. Very happy with the experience and would recommend it to anyone as the best way to see Chicago!

Meowmeow,
Kat

Chicago Summer 2013: Taste of Chicago

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A fun and yummy event in Grant Park, this year’s Taste was crowded, but lots of small-portioned delicious things were consumed, and it was a good place to spend 16 bucks on two sheets of 50 cent meal tickets and stuff our faces.

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Skyline and the crowd from Grant Park

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Spinach and cheese stuffed pizza, taste sized

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Stood in a huge line but totally worth the original rainbow ice cream in a waffle cone

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Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

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Superdawgs is better.

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We went around 2pm, locked our bikes up on the grounds, then bought our tickets for the food onsite. Overall lots of fun, but we definitely wouldnt have enjoyed the massive lunch crowd, so get a late breakfast and set aside over an hour to taste and try! There was a free concert offered, but we headed next door to Millenium Park instead. Yummmyyy afternoon!

Meowmeow,
Kat

Springtime in Paris: Montmartre

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March 2013

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The area in and around the famous sacré coeur on a (rare) sunny spring day.

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Great spot for apero and a little people watching in the touristy area. Claim a table on the terrasse as people are leaving, sit down and order a drink from the waiter in your most polite french. Un café s’il vous plaît! As with all french restos the house red is divine, but I will admit their white was even better!

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Quaint German style cross timbered houses line the quiet streets away from the crowds of Place du Tertre

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The best time to view the facades and monuments while the leaves are bare.

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La Taverne de Montmartre

I’d highly recommend this place for a cozy and well decorated resto just down the stairs from the touristy area. Specialties are pierrades, plates of meat you cook yourself on a hot plate with fixed price menus of the day which could include escargots and creme brulée for an all around delicious frenchie meal. Je vais prendre le menu, les escargots, le pierrade au poulet et boeuf et au fin, la creme brulee s’il vous plaît!🙂

Parks in Paris: Buttes Chaumont

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IMG_0066 by liveloverunaway
IMG_0066, a photo by liveloverunaway on Flickr.

Taken on an afternoon in the park with my sweetie on the only sunny day this Spring in Paris. Came here to escape on the paths that swirl in and around the lake. And we made our way to the tippy top for an amazing view of Sacre Coeur in the distance.

buttes map

To get there: Simply find your way to the 7 bis metro line and enjoy the petits cafés before you enter the park area. There’s signs pointing you in the right direction, but I’d check your map to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. The lake in the middle encompasses the large hill for the view. Get lost that’s part of the fun. So many paths so many directions.

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and don’t forget to pick up some tasty wine and cheese to picnic with the Parisians along the packed grassy knolls on a warm sunny day🙂

Paris, France Musings: Still in Love with an Idea

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Despite living in the 4th for exactly one year in a tiny maid’s chamber as a nanny of three, dragging my frenchlings around in the rain and the snow and the sunless spring through the crowded and sometimes dirty streets of the city of lights, I’m still in love with the romantic idea of Paris. It was my home for so many months, and it molded and shaped me into who I am today. The winter broke me down lower than I’d ever been before, and I look back and can still pinpoint beautiful moments, romantic scenery and cliche’d kisses that I hope I never forget.

ro·mance  

/rōˈmans/

Noun
A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.

Living abroad in Paris was exactly this. Who or what or why I was in love were minor details in this expansive and ever-changing picture. Some would say during my stay, I often felt disillusioned and my routine became mundane, but looking back, I’m still in love with Paris. Even so, just as love isn’t perfect, Paris never will be.

So I keep my romantic thoughts and my warm memories and hold them close, hoping they never lose their charm or impact on my life.

Meowmeow,
Kat

Big Island, Hawaii 6-Night Carry-On Only Packing List

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Being known as a light packer, I had to make myself a list for my first time in Hawaii! 6 nights on the Big Island with just a carry-on bag (probably a lightweight duffle to save car space) is completely doable! This list will probably be changed and marked up before and after the trip for things I wish or should have brought🙂 It always happens so I just don’t worry and try to keep it simple and compact!

Packing List Hawaii

Beach list:
2 Bikinis
1 one piece bathing suit*
Quick dry, lightweight towel/blanket **
2 Sunglasses ***
Cover up
Flip flops
Plastic bag *for wet items
Beach bag
Snorkel gear/flippers *will rent on island for $25/week

* for snorkeling or anything where I don’t want my boobs popping out
**  I like the airlines’ “free” blanket, thin, easy to dry (not stealing? not stealing.)
*** a cheap pair for adventure time and a nice pair for sunning by the hotel pool

Hiking List
Boots *wear on plane to save luggage space
Hat
Extra socks
2 dryfit shorts
2 hiking tops
2 sports bras
*the best are items I can rinse in shower and dry in the sunshine to reuse them for more than two days if needed
Bug spray *commercial or tea tree/citronella
Small backpack *folded into carryon
Plastic bags *keep items dry inside pack if raining

Dinner out/luau
2 dresses
Appropriate bra
Shoes to match *1 pair nude flats for me
Accessories/jewelry
Purse/clutch

General/Summary
10 – 15 undies *I never skimp on undies
1-2 regular bras
Shorts
Belt
Casual shoes/socks
Flats/heels
Tanks
Tshirts
Light jacket/sweater
Dirty clothes bag
*hopefully all your outfits are interchangeable to save space!

Sleeping
Sleep outfit (2?)

Toiletries
Makeup/remover
Lotion
Face wash
Cotton balls
Shampoo/conditioner *could share
Deodorant
Feminine Products
Baby powder *hair touch up
Sunscreen/tanning lotion
Chapstick
Toothpaste/brush
Hair brush/straightener/dryer *check hotel
Hair products
Hair ties/bobby pins
Razor *I wax instead😉
Tweezers
Wax strips

Important Documents
Flight confirmation *on phone or on paper
Credit cards
Debit cards
Cash
Driver’s license
Medical cards

Electronics
Cell phone/charger
Camera/charger/memory card/protective cover

Airplane
Eye cover
Ear plugs
Earbuds
Snacks
Magazine/book/entertainment
Empty water bottle (to refill in airport)

Normally I pack a carry-on emergency pack in case my checked back is lost, but this list is all in my carry on!
but I’ll list it anyway: bikini, undies, socks, toothbrush, baby powder (touch-up airplane hair), face wash so you don’t feel too icky about not having your suitcase right away.

As I mentioned, will edit as things come up! Hope this gives you a good start for any trip with hiking, beach time and nights out🙂

Meowmeow,

Kat

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