Enchanted worlds....


When I think Hawaii, I think sun, surfing and palm trees!

A year ago at this time, Chris and I were supposed to be settled into our seats on United Airlines, heading west, across the Pacific, to a beautiful island oasis.  As we must learn and face in life, things don't always go as planned, and if it doesn't , there will be something possibly even better in store. Our ship "did not sail" that day, and we were left with dreams of the trip happening within the next year, but with no firm plan in place.

Day 1 - Wednesday

I am not one to question, but merely understand that this trip was meant to happen now, September 2017.  We woke up ridiculously early to catch our 6am flight, and could have cared less about the hour! We were full of anticipation and excitement and ready to just be there already!  Being I am...well, who I am....lol, I found a LOT of things catching my eye to photograph, even along the way to our destination!  

The sunrise at 33,000 feet, and the fresh morning light that hit the mountains made me stare out my window, trying to take as much of it in as I could.  I shot probably 30 pictures just of the sun rising and being barely visible, peeking out from behind the body of the plane, and the landscape below as it emphasized all the ridges and ruggedness of our beloved mountains.

Typically I'm super scared flying over water for a long time, but I think having Chris by my side was calming, as well as lot of photo ops keeping me busy!  My aerial view was magical!

Those shadows though...

Coming in to land on Oahu wasn't too shabby of a view either!

After a long flight and patiently waiting in some serious lines at the crowded hotel, we were super stoked to have received an upgrade, into a room that had a balcony with a lagoon view!  This made the time spent in our room VERY enjoyable and we loved being able to sit out on the deck and take it all in!!  

The view was perfect, relaxing and always had the best light!!

If we were in the room, this is where you would find me!

Bonus, we had some marvelous views of sunset and had the opportunity to shoot some incredible sunset and city scapes, from the comfort of our own "home"!  :-)

Our first night there was the best sunset we were able to photograph!!

The city view after dark was pretty outstanding it it's own right!

Score 1 for accommodations!  VERY nice resort with lots to offer in the way of shopping, restaurants, entertainment and beach/pool access!  I would definitely recommend it.  Hilton Hawaiian Village

The Rainbow Tower

This little joint was non stop hustle and bustle!!  People in there from about 6am getting coffee and pastries, and till close getting ice cream and other sweet treats!

We stayed close to home the first night, napped a little, and tried out one of the local restaurants in the resort which proved to be amazing food, with some good live entertainment as well!!

Appreciating what's in front of us AND above us!


A harbor cruise outside of the hotel!

The view from our table in the restaurant...sky view.

View from the patio at dinner.  Not too shabby!

Day 2 - Thursday

I had looked into hiking possibilities long before we even hit the ground.  It made perfect sense to me, since I hike almost every weekend in Colorado!  These hikes could show us some beautiful new scenery ANDDDDD, we could get to a waterfall!!  I had a list of 5 waterfall hikes, so I narrowed it down to my top pick and we headed out!

This trail was TOPS on my list and can I just say my instincts were RIGHT!!  Chris and I took about twice as long to hike it as most people, because literally every turn we made, there was something new and considerably "cool" that we had to photograph!!  Three hours of trekking through rain forests, over muddy slippery trails, climbing over giant exposed roots and navigating water of all kinds, we made it to the falls and what a payoff THAT was!!  I had decided along the way that if it wasn't TOO high, I would jump!  This was a huge decision for me!!  There were 3 different jumping points, 10ft, 20ft, 30ft.  Can you guess which one I did?  :-)  This place was pure magic, and other than a group of local boys that were clearly having a TON of fun jumping off all the heights, there were only a handful of people there!  By the time I jumped and swam back out, it was just us and the locals left!  What a gem to be able to witness this place with very little touristy feel!!  THAT, was exactly my goal this trip!  I wanted to go where most people wouldn't!  There was a little traffic on the trail but it was minimal!!

We had to pull off on the trip to the trail head because of the views!! Seeing the ocean, the city and the mountains was incredible!

The road to the trail head was through a beautiful back road that led us into a neighborhood to die for!

Am I right?  Who wouldn't love THIS view out their back porch??

We may or may not have been enjoying the bamboo in front of one of the  beautiful large homes in the area!

We started out, and were two of five people on the trail. Even the road into the real trail left our heads pivoting from right to left to take it all in!

Found it!  We are off!  Not sure I like the skull on the sign, but that's whatever....

The vines on this tree were covering the trunk all the way to the top!

Photo: Chris

Starting the trail. 

Photo: Chris

We kept finding bigger and bigger leaves on the ground! This wasn't the biggest one!

Photo: Chris

The main stream crossing.  On the far side of the stream that little sign was letting us know to stay out due to possible explosives!!  

Photo: Chris

The trails were steep, slippery and technical!  Challenging and beautiful all in one! 

Photo: Chris

I'm going to share a TON of images below of the different trees/vegetation that we encountered!  It was crazy just how MUCH variety there was!  I HAD to include them ALL!!!

Camera mania!  Taking the selfie with my phone, GoPro, Nikon, disposable....ok I'm set I guess.... 😊

This clearing....ahhhhhh!

Photo: Chris

No joke, when I saw this on the ground I thought it was a steel wire. When I picked it up I realized it was all part of a tree!!

Just to the right of the tree was the trail...that's what I'm talking about lol!!

We came to a clearing, and it definitely was a sight to see!  We could see the green tops of the trees for days, crazy that its tree tops and not grass we were seeing!!


After a brief moment in the clearing, it was back to the dense vegetation and slippery surfaces!


At one point I noticed on a dark patch of leaves, what I thought was a little clump of bubbles.  Upon further investigation, it was a pile of white mushrooms!  I only saw these literally in ONE spot on the entire trail!  Super cool find if I do say so!

Chris practiced getting some extreme close ups with his macro lens! 

Eventually we had to cross this river but for now...let's utilize that COOL MOSSY ROCK!!!

The idea for the shot below came to me when I saw the completely moss covered rocks by the creek!  Chris took the shot and it came out exactly how I had hoped!!

The vibrant colors and different textures made for a really cool "back ground" for this image!

Photo: Chris

Making our way...

We knew we were getting closer as the trail took us from a higher elevation, down a steep decline.  We rounded the corner to see the falls and a small group that were enjoying them!

The group on this side of the falls were tourists, the group on the rock were the locals living it up!!  It was AWESOMELY un-populated! Of course the photo ops were phenomenal!!

Photo: Chris

And there I go! Photo: Chris

The water was crazy deep (it had better be with people jumping off the 30 foot side!) and chilly but super refreshing! 

Photo: Chris

The guys on the rocks were super cool and told me they would jump with me if I was too scared (trust, I considered it)!  I did it on my own but totally appreciated the thoughtful gesture!!  

Photo: Random kind tourist

I had to walk up and just GO FOR IT!  I'm SO glad I did! 

Photo: Chris

The boys were cracking up getting in our GoPro selfie!  Made us laugh as well!

We finally turned to head back and made our way back to the car, exhausted with sore feet from all the instability, but we felt 110% satisfied with what we had just done!!

We were able to attend the Luao at the hotel that evening which was really a treat!  I enjoyed the food and the entertainment and being outside on a gorgeous night with the man I love!

Half a Mai Tai and I was sloshed...lol JK, but really, I felt it. 

There were plenty of Keto options for me which was awesome!  Savory chicken, pork and steak.  

Luao done, we crumbled into bed in preparation for another great day tomorrow!

Day 3 - Friday

We had a hard time shaking the mountain time zone and promptly woke up around 2-4am every day we were on the island.  I guess I didn't mind so much, being a) I'm totally a morning person and enjoy that quiet morning time on the balcony in the dark and b) more time to ADVENTURE!!!!  We ended up eating breakfast every day around 5-6am and it was very interesting just how many other people were up and active at that time of day!!  I guess we weren't the only ones struggling with time zone issues!!

Our plan was to go to Pearl Harbor and then continue on up to the North Shore.  I got out of the room early for an hour and walked up and down the boardwalk in front of the hotels. Surfers, fishermen, crabs, palm trees, people, just doing their thing and enjoying their day.

Diamond Head.

He was ok, just napping!  πŸ˜‹

We arrived at Pearl Harbor around 11, and the first ferry we could get to the Arizona wasn't until 1:30pm, so we found a local restaurant, Restaurant 604, which again produced the most AMAZING flavored dishes! We relaxed a bit on the open patio, ate and were able to see the memorial, as well as tour the museums on the property.  What a humbling experience.  What those men must have felt...I can't even imagine and to pay respect to them was an honor Chris and I both felt.

The Arizona Memorial. 

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Heading up to the North Shore found us in awe at the completely different landscape than we had already experienced!  Very Rural with farm land, beautiful mountain ranges, and beaches to die for.  It was really incredible to see the differences each side/part of the island offered!!! They were all SO unique and beautiful for what they each offered!!

North Shore beaches were fantastic!  I believe this was Sunset Beach but we stopped at multiple beautiful spots.

Photo: Chris

So much to take in...

Photo: Chris

...and so much to photograph.  This location was yet another paradise found for me!

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Me under a beautiful Palm tree!

Photo: Chris

These entrepreneurs were set up in a fantastic spot.  This beach had 2 buses of tourists pull up when we were finishing up (thank goodness) and sold a TON of fresh fruit!


 Once the tourist buses pulled up, we bounced!  😎 We drove up to this VERY un-populated spot that had a small and beautiful beach and little island!  We sat here for a bit taking in the air and quiet!

...and back on the road!

Our session with a talented local photographer was amazing!  Amber Mozo took us to some places we would not have ever known about on our own and I can't WAIT to get our pictures back!!!  

We stopped in at a restaurant that my friend Tara recommended called Uncle Bo's , in Haleiwa (they also have a location in Honolulu!).  They were super accommodating to my needs and Uncle Bo whipped me up a Keto dish that was TO DIE FOR!!!  I was so appreciative of their willingness to help me be able to enjoy their food but meet my needs!!  Awesome service AND food!

Again, the theme by 9pm is, crumble into bed and pass out lol.

Day 4 - Saturday

Saturday we decided to go to the East side of the island, take the beautiful and scenic Pali Highway, and check out a hike there as well!  Per recommendation from Aislyn, we did the Pill Box Trail.  We were aiming for sunrise at the top, but decided if our bodies actually LET us sleep a little later, we would go with the flow.  We missed the sunrise by maybe 30 minutes but I can say I was NOT disappointed in what we got to see!!

A really thoughtful lady at the top had videoed the sunrise so if you want to take in 3 minutes of a peaceful view, click the link and enjoy!!

This trail was ridiculously technical at the beginning.  being super steep and either slippery or rocky.  Once you get past these areas though, its a smooth path along the ridge which yields FANTASTIC views of the Mokulua Islands and a bays of beautiful teal blue waters.  We made it to the top of both pill boxes and just sat for a long time, taking it all in.  This is a short but tough hike!  VERY worth it!

Street parking quite a few blocks away allowed us to see some really cool areas walking to the trail.  This was a golf course that was SO beautiful!

Basically you are climbing straight up at the beginning parts!

Yes, of course I am...

Photo: Chris

The final assent to the Pill Box #1

Photo: Chris

The view from the first Pill Box was crazy awesome!!

Second Pill Box upper right corner of photo!


Paddle Boarders

At the top of Pill Box #2 - πŸ’–

The Pill boxes were covered in graffiti but it was kinda cool!  Pill Box 1

Pill Box 2

Photo: Chris

A church group was up at the top with us and broke into song inside the Pill Box...it was magical....PLEASE take a listen!  23 seconds...

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: GoPro Selfie

Photo: Chris

A floral fence on our walk from the trail.

My love!!

Breakfast followed at Cinnamon's Restaurant in Kailua, and proved to be extremely satisfying!  We order SO much food, an omelet, cinnamon roll (of COURSE), spam, eggs, hamburger (a beef patty was on almost every breakfast menu we had!)....a feast fit for a king!  Full bellies, I accidentally, while going upstairs to find the restroom, came across the Manoa Chocolate Shop!!  What the WHAT???? A happy "accident" for sure for this dark chocolate lovin girl!!!  I bought a 100% dark chocolate bar and it was delectable!  It came with a heft price tag but it was worth it!

My face when I know I'm getting breakfast!!

I had been dying to have this in Hawaii!  It finally happened!!

There were probably 100 bags of the cacao beans all around the outside and inside of the factory!!

YEP!!  😍

Other than the pictures, this was my one "souvenir" from our vacation!

We decided to head down the coast to check out another "short hike"...or so we thought.  Chris found a cool lighthouse/overlook you can climb to.

The view you experience on this trail are out of this world.  The trail is all an blacktop road that climbs 1220 feet.  I actually wanted to rip my skin off on this hike on the way up because I was so hot it was unbearable...but other than that lol....it was truly amazing...once we got off of the dead air side of the trail.

These beaches and water were some of the best I've seen in Hawaii!  Crystal clear, teal blue and white sand....

In the distance you will see a huge crater, this was maybe 1/4 of the way up the hill!

Getting to the top was insane and the water turned to a deep royal blue that you almost couldn't believe was real.  

We were so happy to be at the top of the climb because the heat that was was BRUTAL!! 

As we were ascending, Chris noticed some tide pools, WAY down maybe 1000 feet, of jagged rocks with virtually no trail to be found.  You were forced to pick a line and go for it.  ANYWAY, knowing I would probably say yes, he asks me, "do you want to go down"?  I emphatically say "no way, I would have to climb back out (remember, I was at the point of pulling my skin off hot?)".  So, we kept going and got to the top, where we witnessed one of the most fantastic views that I could have imagined.  The water, the beaches, the waves, the rocks....magnificent beyond words.

Once we took a few pictures and we feeling cooled by the breeze, I quickly realized that I would 100% REGRET it if we didn't make our way down the cliff to the pools.  I told Chris, I changed my mind and I want to go!  He knew I would change my mind. πŸ˜‹

The decent was nothing short of treacherous, but if you take it slowly, you are good to go.  We forged our trail and about 30 minutes later, were at the sides of beautiful pools of sea water, with spray flying into the air about 20 feet away (very dangerous so we stayed a safe distance away).  There were maybe 10 other people who ventured down, so we had a beautiful environment all to ourselves.

This, was pure...amazement...

Photo: Chris

I have seen pictures of these pools, and needed one of my own, floating peacefully.  Chris, camera in hand, took the shots and made an incredible image that I will cherish forever.

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

This was the the steep terrain that we had to make our way down, and eventually back up.

The pools from half way down. (lower left)

The water and waves were so powerful and beautiful.

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

We stopped half way back up to get out of the sun and rest our weary feet!

This is the beach from the pictures from above...how could we not stop and dip our toes in the beautiful water???

25 minutes got us back to the paved road and I am not exaggerating when I say I was hobbling back to the jeep, VERY slowly.  My feet hurt so badly.  Two days of hiking, blisters and soreness, had taken its toll.

Back over the Pali Highway we went. 

The last thing on our list that day was a trip to Leonard's Bakery !  I had been DREAMING of having a Malasada (Hawaiian doughnut) and was determined today was the DAY!  We rolled up, ordered a half dozen and promptly devoured one in the car in the parking lot lol.  We shared it, but still...  FLIPPING amazing.  

The one we devoured...missing from the box!! 

On the way around the last turn to the resort, we saw a restaurant that looked intriguing, full of life and THAT, was where we decided to head for dinner! Cheeseburger Waikiki was the place of choice!  We cleaned up and walked over, and ended having the most delicious food, once again!!  Highly recommended!

...and, you know the drill...crumbled into bed. 😌

Day 5 - Sunday

One of Gabby's best friends, Amber Sands Hinkle,  now lives in Kailua with her new husband and I was dying to get to see her and hug that girl!  We decided to meet at one of the other trails that I was drooling over, and Chris wanted to catch the Broncos game, so it all workout out beautifully!  Amber showed up at 7am to pick me up and drove us over the beautiful Pali Highway again to get to my last waterfall trail hike of the trip!

This trail looked absolutely fantastic on paper and was HIGH on my list.  Amber had hiked the trail before and was excited to go back so it was a perfect fit!

The trail started as a densely overgrown forested area that had bamboo, palms and lots of other local foliage that took my breath away.  We made our way through the short section, maybe 10 minutes in that, and emerged into this FANTASTIC open grassy mountainous field that had layers and layers of fog.  I can't even believe I was experiencing yet another completely different terrain/scene than anything I had seen yet!  The fields were vast and lush, and took us back into another forested area, where I will admit, we forged our own trail and MAY have been momentarily lost, but we knew we were headed in the right direction!  The funny thing is, there was a family of about 15 people following US...who had no idea that WE were probably not the people to follow lol. 😏

There's my girl!!  πŸ’—

The mist and the lush green.....ahhhh....

I swear this green was NOT a filter!!  I was blown away at how neon the and brilliant the colors were!!

This is where we MAYYY have been a little off course...

Check out this cool natural "handle"!!  This tree was SO smooth!

Scaling down the hill with the family who was following close behind! 

Carrying on the tradition in Hawaii!

This was a tree trunk! Isn't the texture cool?  It was smooth with those deep grooves!!

Meditating on a beautiful waterfall, what could be better!!

Photo: Amber Hinkle

We made it! 

As we suspected, we got to the falls just fine, but were scaling near vertical hills and having to pull ourselves up with branches.  It was quite an adventure and a FUN one at that!!!

The falls were huge, maybe 50 feet of water rushing down!  We had to wait in line behind said family that was following our lead lol, who jumped in first to take a kazillion pictures!  We got our turn though and felt satisfied to have made the trek and have some very cool pics to show for it!

On that trail I got a FaceTime from Gabby so she got to enjoy the falls too!!  Oddly enough, Farron called me about 10 minutes later, to tell me about a spider in the house that she was "saving" for me to squish when I got home!

What a wonderful treat to  be able to share this with Gabby over FaceTime!

Amber and I went back the the Air Force base where they live and picked up little Mello!  He is a CUTIE and came with us to drive the H3 Highway back over to the hotel!  We stopped at a private beach and a really beautiful overlook!

Somebody is getting sleepy!!

I was completely fascinated by these trees!!

Wow...just wow.  I was excited to take the H3 back to Honolulu as the gentleman at the Manoa Chocolate factory told me that this road is AMAZING after a recent rain, as you can see hundreds waterfalls all over these mountains!  

The overlook...

By this time in the trip, my feet were destroyed.  They were blistered up, sore from all the uneven surfaces and climbing we did and I was ready to just relax them.  I was able to get an hour on the beach and then off to dinner we went back at the hotel restaurant that proved to be so amazing the first time!!

We wanted a night to shoot the sunset at the resort, but there was extreme cloud cover. However, check out what we DID get, something even better!

I adore this shot...

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

Photo: Chris

...crumbled into bed...I sense a theme...lol

Day 6 - Monday

Our day, as per usual, started around 4am!  WOOHOO!!!  ;-)  Actually it was good, gave us time to pack up our room, get some grub, check out and grab the Jeep for more ADVENTURE!!

We headed back to the North Shore as we just didn't have enough time to explore on our own, and it was a beautiful rich area of sights and experiences!

I loved the North Shore.  So small town and humble...it was perfect!

I had wanted to head back to a more deserted beach area that we hung out at pre-photoshoot, that I wanted to shoot at.  We stopped, were the only ones there, and got the shots we wanted!  

As soon as we were packing up to head out, I felt a few rain drops coming in the open roof.  We thought it would probably be a good idea to put the hard top back on and by the time we walked to the back of the jeep to retrieve the pieces, we were in a full on downpour and both ended up looking like we stepped out of a shower with our clothes on!!  It was pretty impressive but made for great memories for us!!!


Rain came in crazy fast and came down HARD!!

Driving back down towards some more popular surf beaches, we found two to stop at and enjoyed seeing some good surfing and grabbing some cool shots!

Hunger set in and we had seen a little row of food trucks that we stopped at for a great treat with an ocean view!!

After lunch, our final stop was to watch some good surfing. We had driven by some spots where they waves were pretty big and we saw some cool stuff, so we stopped at two locations and pulled out the cameras once again!! I'm SO glad we got the opportunity to!

Seriously one of my favorite shots!

Random grom...

This dude may have bobbled but he never fell!! Impressive!!

Another favorite shot!!

Laniakea Beach

Photo: Chris

All good things must eventually come to an end, and now it was time to head back to the resort.  We were able to catch an hour on the beach, plus jump into a "courtesy" room to shower and head to the Honolulu airport for our 8:30pm flight!

We saw this from the shuttle on our way to the airport... πŸ’—

Day 7 - 6:30am Denver time

Our wheels touched down in Denver, virtually a sleepless night for us both!

All I can say is wow.  

This trip far exceeded my expectations and the time/ conversations/ experiences Chris and I shared will be in my heart forever!  We were both completely delirious with sleep deprivation.  

I had a 2 hour window to catch a nap, then head to work.  Chris, had to fly out that evening to finish his week in training. Even though that was extraordinarily rough (mine wasn't has hard as his was) it was worth every moment.

I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with us through my words and pictures.  I would go back here in a heartbeat and experience probably even different things!

I thank Hawaii for giving us a dream come true and Chris for giving me a trip of a lifetime!!

Until next time....