A Question

Look at this face.

Now tell me: What would you do if you spent the weekend with this little fellow?

If you answered, "try to steal him," I wouldn't blame you. That's what I tried to do when I finally got to meet Cousin BH's little buddy, Booker, for the first time.

How could you not love this little angel?

I mean really. Look at that tongue.

Don't you just want to scoop him up and take him home with you right now? I sure did.


Returning to You (And the West, In Spirit)

Pardon the interruption. Things got a bit crazy over here. But what's new?

I realized today how long it's been since I said hello. I also realized I still haven't finished sharing snapshots from my Idaho/Wyoming adventures. That's just not right.

So here are a few from our trip up to Grand Targhee on my last full day out west. It was a snowy one, that's for certain.

Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to tell you Midwesterners. Next winter when a decent snowstorm hits and paralyzes your town/city, just remember this: It snows more than that on a regular ol' winter day up here.

And people rejoice and get out in the snow when it happens rather than buckling down for Snowmageddan. I'm just sayin'.


Backyard Snowshoeing

After everyone else headed for home or went back to work, Auntie L and I donned our snowshoes in the backyard and headed toward the Tetons. We didn't make it that far, of course. But we made it all the way to Ski Hill Road, and that was quite a trek. It was the most beautiful day yet.


Sunrise Photo

My first two mornings in Driggs dawned beautiful but overcast, such that the sunrise and the Tetons were obscured by low clouds. On my third morning there, just as My Parents and cousin and uncle prepared to leave, the clouds broke. This is the first thing I saw when I woke and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. It meant, I decided, only one thing: It was going to be a beautiful Idaho-Wyoming day. And it was.


A Week Ago Today Photo II

The boys headed up Grand Targhee to hit the slopes. The girls snowshoed at the Nordic track along the base of the ski mountain. That's My Mom and Auntie L. It was Auntie L's birthday--and a big one, at that. I doubt you'd believe me if I told you either of their ages, though. So I'm not gonna do it.

A Week Ago Today Photo

A week ago today, I woke up to this view. I was in a little pocket of Idaho (in a town called Driggs), gazing up toward Wyoming's Tetons and Grand Targhee. I was at Auntie L and Uncle B's cabin in the mountains. It was an absolutely dreadful way to start my Spring Break, don't you think?


Friday Afternoon Photo

The curtains dance on the almost-spring breeze sneaking in through the open window. The first buds of the season peek out from the damp soil where the sidewalk meets the front yard. Butter stands at his window, surveying his domain. He looks especially handsome in his new collar, a souvenir from the islands.


Saying Goodbye to Maui

It's hard to believe, but at this time last month Conservative Hubby and I were still in the middle of our honeymoon adventures in Hawaii.

Now, after weeks of sharing the highlights of our time in Waikiki and Maui with you, it's time to close out the Hawaii portion of the blog.

And so I leave you with a few shots of the sunset on our last evening in Maui, when we sat on our balcony and watched the sun sink behind the islands for the last time.

If you're devastated that the scenes of sun and shore are coming to an end, never fear. An entirely new set of posts--this time, focused on scenes of sun and snow--are coming up next.

I live a rough life, don't I?


A Food Update

You may have noticed that a lot of my blog posts focus on food--food I make at home, food I eat when we go out, food, food, food.

Yet you may also have noticed that my blog posts about Hawaii have not focused very much, if at all, on food.

It's not that we didn't have good food. We had some great food, actually. Fresh fish for almost every meal. The most amazing, mouth-watering pineapple. Great local brews.

But the thing is, with such amazing scenery, I didn't bother focusing on my usual food photos. I was too distracted by the blue skies and the ocean and the green foliage that surrounded us everywhere we went.

However, I will share with you the few photos I did snap.

Of my first delicious mai tai in Waikiki. (I had at least one tasty yet very overpriced cocktail each day before switching to not much more affordable wine or beer.)

Of the Elvis Fudge (think peanut butter, milk chocolate fudge, and guava jelly) we had at Rum Fire at Sheraton Waikiki, which made us swoon.

Of our exceptionally expensive room-service breakfast on our last morning in Waikiki.

Of the wonderful treats--an incredibly pleasant surprise!--we found waiting for us at each hotel we stayed at on our trip.

Of the fare at the luau.

And, though it's not a food photo, a snapshot of Tropica, the restaurant at our hotel (directly below our room) where we had a fabulous meal on our last night in Maui.

As for the rest of our dining escapades while in Hawaii? I'm leaving that up to your imagination.


Surfing, Hawaii-Style

On our last full day in Maui, Conservative Hubby only had one goal: To surf.

Fortunately, that was easy to do just down the beach from our hotel. So that morning he started out with a refresher lesson on the land.

Then, once he had the basics down again, it was time to hit the waves.

I don't know whether it was the fact that it was his second time out or that the waves were easier to surf, but for whatever reason Conservative Hubby did considerably better this time than he did on his first surfing outing in California.

He was able to get up on his board quickly and stay on it much longer than he did last time he surfed.

In fact, he looked like he knew what he was doing. (Especially compared to the two people he took a lesson with who were ... um ... struggling a bit to say the least.)

It was fun to sit and watch Conservative Hubby on the beach, but I have to admit after seeing him surf this time I even got a bit of an itch to try it myself.

So maybe next time I'll be out there too. We'll just have to see.

(Oh, one downfall to Maui surfing: Coral. This spill resulted in some massive bruises. But it looked good!)


Whale Watching

We visited Maui in the middle of humpback whale-watching season.

This meant we could sit at the beach or on our balcony and spot their tails and fins and the water shooting out of their blowholes. (If you look really hard in the photo above, you can even see a whale jumping.)

But we decided we wanted to get a bit closer to the whales, so we decided to take a sunset whale-watching dinner cruise.

Based on a recommendation, I booked a reservation with the Pacific Whale Foundation, because they not only do fun things like whale-watching tours to educate people about the marine environment, but they also use the funds they raise from the tours to conduct marine research and address marine conservation issues.

Plus the tours themselves are more environmentally friendly than others you'll find in the area, because they use whale protection devices, low-emissions engines, bio-compostable products for food and beverages, and more.

So Conservative Hubby and I headed down to the dock in Lahaina for our sunset cruise. It was a small crowd that day and we got a great spot on a bench right in front of the cockpit, with unobstructed views of the ocean all around us.

A musician sat in the cockpit serenading us with traditional island music. The food we had actually turned out to be quite delicious. But the highlight of the cruise was, of course, the whales.

And boy did we hit the jackpot. Near dusk, we came upon a mother, her baby, and their escort frolicking in the water. The stayed very close to our boat for quite some time. I was amazing to watch them up close, to see their tails and fins and their backs rise out of the water.

We even got to see the mother of all whale-watching sights, something so impressive (and not that common, particularly on sunset cruises) that even the captain was excited: One of the whales did a full breach, so her entire body came out of the water and we had an up-close view of her underside.

It was amazing.

I wish I could say I got photos of the whale activities, but it was too close to dark and the whales were moving too quickly for me to catch everything on camera. I'm not well-versed with my camera enough yet to know what I should have done.

So after a few futile attempts, I just put it away and enjoyed the show with my eyes instead.

And a wonderful show it was. Conservative Hubby and I agreed that we would definitely do a whale-watching cruise again--and with the Pacific Whale Foundation too, no less.


The Banyan Tree

On our trip to Hawaii, I fell in love with the banyan trees.

(Yeah, go ahead and say it. I'm a tree hugger. Or a treehugger. Or maybe both. I'll admit it.)

I didn't think it got much better than the big, beautiful tree in the courtyard of our hotel in Waikiki.

And then we moseyed around in quaint little downtown Lahaina on Maui and came across this monster of a banyan. (Or "magical Avatar tree," as Conservative Hubby prefers to call it.)

Yes, this is one tree. (Sort of.)

After we gazed in wonder at this monstrosity, Conservative Hubby hopped on his magic phone he carries with him that has the answers to all the world's questions to find out what the deal was with the banyan.

That's how we learned it's a fig. Its seeds germinate in the cracks of a host tree and then send down roots toward the ground, which can end up taking over the host tree (hence the moniker it sometimes has, "stranger fig").

This particular banyan happens to be a rather greedy fellow that has taken over all the other trees around it in the park.

And it's pretty darn cool.