Oahu, Hawaii – Days 1 & 2

Aloha!

I’m so excited to write this blog post, because it’s about a trip to one of my favorite places in the world! Hawaii! This is my 3rd time visiting Oahu, and it never gets old. I was recently there in July for a week, so you can read about that relaxing trip HERE. Although this was my 3rd time visiting the beautiful island, it was my first time traveling there with someone!IMG_7991.JPGLet’s start from the beginning shall we? Taylor and I decided to visit Hawaii last week because it’s: a) a place I love and b) one of the only states he hasn’t been to yet. Airline tickets typically range around $700-$800 round trip from America, but we snagged tickets for only $400 round trip from China. We flew from Nanjing to Shanghai to Honolulu. The Shanghai to Honolulu flight was only 8 hours, and wasn’t full. Before boarding, we asked the attendant at the gate to change our seats to single rows by ourselves in the back, so we could lay down. Untitled design-2It was important for us to sleep on our flight, because we arrived in Honolulu at 8am and hit the ground running. After going through customs, we picked up our rental car and drove to my cousin’s apartment. She was away for work, so she let us stay at her place for the week. We’re so thankful! We changed into our swimsuits and started driving up the east coast. IMG_7957IMG_7992img_7978.jpgIMG_8012Untitled design-5After stopping at several lookout points and absorbing the beautiful views around us, we stopped for lunch at Kona Brewing Company on the harbor. We shared a few appetizers and enjoyed the warm weather. We ordered chicken wings, pepperoni rolls, and seafood soup to split. The soup was okay, but everything else was wonderful! This is a great spot to stop at if you’re in the area. Untitled designOnce our stomachs were full, we hopped back in the car and continued driving. img_8015.jpgIMG_8017How cute was our car? 🙂 If you’re visiting Oahu and looking for a less touristy beach, I’d recommend driving to Waimanalo Beach. It’s in a residential neighborhood, and there’s always free street parking. I think the sand and water are nicer too. IMG_2067-2DSC_0013-2We also stopped at Halona Blowhole Lookout so we could experience that small beach too. IMG_80011IMG_7999Untitled design-3After a day in the sun, we ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Ala Moana, and then headed to bed. We were exhausted from a full day of traveling and exploring! (Just as a reference, Hawaii is 18 hours behind China.)IMG_80204

On our second day, we got dressed and packed our bathing suits for the road. Our first stop of the day was Pearl Harbor. We drove up the west coast and arrived at Pearl Harbor within 30 minutes. This is somewhere you absolutely need to visit if you find yourself in Honolulu. DSC_5625DSC_5614DSC_5628I visited this National Park during my first visit to Hawaii, but I was only 17. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go back, because I didn’t fully grasp what I was learning the first time. They were doing renovations on the Arizona Memorial, so unfortunately we weren’t able to walk through it. However, the boat drove us around and it was free of charge. I really appreciated this. DSC_5608DSC_5621DSC_5610After a morning of learning and remembering, we got into the car and kept driving up the west coast. We stopped for a quick lunch at Island Plantation. This is a locally owned place and they had a great lunch menu! Untitled design-4The west coast of Oahu was really cool! The mountains were stunning, and it felt like we’d transported to a completely different island. The weather was cloudy and stormier, but we had a great time. IMG_8035IMG_80512.jpgLater that evening, when the sun began to set, we drove back to Waikiki and ate dinner at OMG Tacos. This place was sooooooo good. It’s very similar to Chipotle, and it was exactly what we needed after a long day. This would be a great lunch spot if you’re staying in Waikiki. IMG_8055.jpg

After eating, we went back to the apartment and called it a night. I hope you enjoyed reading about our first two days in Hawaii. The second half of our trip will be up soon! Make sure you’re following A World of Crazy for notifications about the next post.

xoxo

Grand Teton National Park

We just got back from our family trip out west, and I’m sitting here cuddling with Maybelle while writing/editing this post. I missed her terribly while we were away, and it was her first time being boarded (it didn’t go well)! It’s currently pouring outside, so I’m listening to the rain with coffee in hand, while May is snuggled up beside me in her favorite heated blanket.

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This year, Taylor’s side of the family decided to travel through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for the annual family vacay! In the previous years, we’ve visited Maine, Destin, and California! You can click on the links to read about those trips as well.

We flew out of Charlotte super early on Saturday morning, and arrived in Salt Lake City by 11am. It was a 4 hour flight through Delta, and everything went smoothly. Although none of us sat together on the plane, we had endless movies to watch on the TV screens in our seats. On the way there, I watched The Maze Runner-The Death Cure and a few episodes of the Big Bang Theory-Season 11. 

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Like most of our family vacations, we rented a 15 passenger van at the airport. Once all our luggage was packed tightly into the back, we buckled up and drove 5 hours to Jackson Hole for our first adventure!

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We would only be in Jackson Hole for one night, so we made the most of our time there. We started by riding the Aerial Tram above the mountains. This was a great way to see the area, because there are windows circling the tram. This is not for those afraid of heights! Once you get to the top, you can see Jackson Hole for miles. The view is stunning and makes for a great photo opportunity!

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By the time we got off the mountain, it was time for dinner. We all ate at MacPhails Burgers. This was a great spot to relax and enjoy a good burger. Afterwards, we walked around downtown Jackson Hole and visited the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. We didn’t stay long before checking into our hotel and turning in for the night. I think it’s safe to say that everyone was exhausted from a full day of traveling. We stayed up as late as we could in attempt to help with the time change.

We started the next morning by loading up the van again and heading to breakfast downtown at Persephone Bakery. It was a small cafe, and since we were such a large group, we ate outside around the fire. The food was unique and delicious. This wasn’t your typical scrambled eggs and bacon, but we loved it! We had a great morning sharing plates of food and sipping on our coffee before another long day.

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I ordered the Herbed Omelette, which had fresh herbs, red chile lemon ricotta, asparagus, radish, fingerling potatoes, dijon cream sauce, and toast. This was the best toast I’ve ever eaten before!

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Taylor and I have been dreaming about visiting the Grand Tetons, but it’s difficult to get to. You can fly into the Jackson Hole Airport, but quite frankly it’s expensive and a long journey. With a group of 12 people, it was easier to fly into Salt Lake City and drive.

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To be honest, I’m struggling to write about the beauty of the Tetons. I feel like no words or pictures can do it justice. They are truly a masterpiece, and you must see them in person. I could spend days driving through the enormous mountains, taking photos and letting it all sink in.

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We drove a short distance and found a small 1 mile trail to hike up to Phelps Lake. This was a moderate hike with amazing views at the top.

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Once we were done, we drove around some more and stopped at several lookouts before checking in at the Jackson Lake Lodge.

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Once we got our room keys, we loaded into a different van and headed to a rafting tour on the Snake River!

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We had an amazing time floating down the river and seeing all the wildlife. I didn’t want to take my camera with me, and it rained about halfway so I didn’t capture a lot of pictures. Looking back, I’m ok with this because I was able to be in the moment and enjoy the tour. This was probably one of the coolest excursions during the trip.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best experience at the Jackson Lake Lodge. In fact, I don’t even have any pictures of the inside. The lobby area was gorgeous, with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the Grand Tetons. However, when we brought all our bags upstairs after the rafting tour, 3 of the rooms weren’t cleaned. It was about 10pm, so we were ready for bed.

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They only had one available room left in the lodge, so a few of us had to move to the cottages surrounding the lodge. This was the first week they were open, so they were probably still working out the kinks, but it was disappointing. They mentioned that the rooms said “dirty” in their system so why would they even give us a key?? Weird.

Besides the room cleanliness though, we enjoyed our stay. We ate breakfast there the next morning and headed out towards YellowStone National Park.

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Stay tuned for more posts about our trip! 🙂