Hawaii – Part 3

…continued from Hawaii – Part 2

On day 4 of the trip, mom spent some time perusing lists of things to do on Maui and found a snorkeling excursion in Wailea she thought we would all like. After discussion, we ended up booking the snorkeling as the main activity to do on the 6th day of our trip.

After the excursion to Honolulu on day 3, followed by the fun yet somewhat stressful expedition that was the road to Hana on day 5, we were in serious need of an adventure that didn’t span the bulk of the day but still got us out and enjoying what the island has to offer. Snorkeling ended up being the perfect activity.

Day 6

Our group got up nice and early on the morning of our 6th day of vacation, and promptly loaded into the Jeeps so we could start the trek around the island to Wailea.

We had pre-arranged our snorkeling adventure through Swim with Turtles Maui, which was located near the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott. We opted for a private guided tour where we kayaked out to a cove, anchored our kayaks (single anchor in the sand, not in the coral reef), and spent the next couple of hours snorkeling around in the water between Wailea beach and the Molokini Crater. We were fortunate enough to see some eagle rays, tons of tropical fish, a few turtles, and some eels.

When we finished our snorkeling adventure, it was time to re-bandage Ryan’s foot. The rest of the group took the opportunity to change into dry clothes, and we all met back at a small restaurant by a hidden pool at the Marriott.

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After lunch the group made our way back to the west side of the island and spent the afternoon relaxing. That evening, we had reservations for Duke’s, the restaurant that sat on resort property near the boardwalk that connected the string of resorts along Ka’anapali.

Ryan and I went down to the restaurant a little over a half an hour before the rest of the group so we could grab a drink just the two of us as a mini celebration of our engagement.

Day 7

Earlier in the week we had requested a late check out from the condo we were renting and we got that request approved. As such, we had some more time that morning to wander around on the beach, and to make the boys put on something nice for a group shot.

Following pictures, we changed into comfy traveling clothes, finished packing up the condo, and checked out. Our group had previously decided that we were going to check out the Maui Ocean Center on our way from Kaanapali back to the Maui Airport, which was pretty cool.

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Our flight home was a trip from hell as it was not only a red-eye, but there was a young child screaming and kicking Nich’s seat the last 3 hours. The parents approach to taking control of the situation was arguing loudly with one another – a bold strategy I must say.

Trip Reflections

This vacation was impactful for a number of reasons, and was hands down one of the best trips I’ve ever taken.

  • Pearl Harbor absolutely blew me away and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on that day tour. My dad and brother toured the memorial the last time the family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I always felt like I had missed out by choosing to not go with them
  • Snorkeling was something I had always wanted to do but was a little scared of. I’m glad I got over that mild fear because it was such an amazing experience!
  • I don’t know how I go so lucky as to have a significant other who is as up for just about anything my dad is AND as equipped to make the “just about anything” happen because LORD knows I would not have been equipped to do that Road to Hana trip (as much as I liked to think I was)
  • We could not have gotten a better group together – everyone had a buddy, everyone got along, and everyone had similar goals for the trip, so it was super easy to plan excursions

I’m so grateful to my parents for the opportunity to go on a trip like this – here’s to more fun adventures as adults!

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Hawaii – Part 1

Since my father retired, my family has been making an effort to make big trips together more. Back in 2018, we had decided to make a big trip in 2019 as it is the year my younger brother graduates with his Bachelor’s Degree.

The original trip we had planned over the CSU college system’s spring break was a cruise to Mexico, which we backed out of almost 2 months later for a variety of reasons including food options, freedom to create our own schedule, and the desire for more available activities than drinking.

We knew we still wanted to go somewhere tropical, and decided that a trip to Hawaii better fit the kind of vacation we were looking for.

Seeing as my brother and I are older now, we each got to bring a friend – a travel buddy if you will – so that everyone had someone to do things with. My younger brother Preston brought his best friend Nich, and I brought my boyfriend Ryan.

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Day 1

As soon as we got off the plane in Maui, we grabbed our baggage and wandered out to the shuttle area so we could work on getting our rental cars. We ended up renting our cars through Maui Lifted Jeeps and they were P E R F E C T for our group and the trip we had planned.

With the cars loaded, we made our way to the west part of the island to where we were staying near Ka’anapali. As soon as we were checked in, Ryan and I wasted no time changing into our bathing suits and heading down to the beach with my mom.

The view from our room – the wall of windows from the living room to the balcony folded away entirely to create a true indoor/outdoor space!

Day 2

The following day, myself, my mom, and Ryan got up early (still on California time) and went for a walk on the beach together. To stick with the relaxing theme for the day, Ryan and I had scheduled a 90 minute couples massage for 11am at the spa on the main floor of the resort building we were staying in.

Later that day, our group made our way to Lahaina for a late lunch and to walk around by the Banyan Tree.

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That night was the season premier for the final season of Game of Thrones, so naturally, the 5 of us on the trip who were invested in the show gathered in the living room as soon as we were able to stream it.

Day 3

The following morning around 4:00 am, dad, Preston, Nich, Ryan, and I made our way back to the Maui airport. The five of us had opted to spend one day of our vacation on Oahu to do the Pearl Harbor memorial. Preston and my dad had gone to the memorial the last time my family went to Hawaii in 2010, and I had regretted not going ever since.

When the five of us got off the plane at the Honolulu airport, we were taken from the airport to the memorial via transport my dad has arranged when he booked our Pearl Harbor tour.

Once at the main visitor’s center, we swapped our receipt for physical tickets and made way to the ferry that would take us out by the USS Arizona Memorial – the dock for the ferries was still undergoing construction when we went, so we were unable to get out and walk over the top of the sunken vessel.

Once back on land, we wandered the grounds a bit before making our way to the shuttle that would take us to the USS Missouri and continue the loop to the Aviation Museum on Fort Island. On USS Missouri, we jumped into a tour group to learn a bit about the history of the ship and it’s significance in not only WWII, but in relation to the USS Arizona. For those who are unaware, the ships sit in the harbor bow to bow where Arizona marks the true beginning of the war in the Pacific theater and the Missouri marks the true end as the Japanese surrendered on her deck.

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After the tour, we wandered the ship’s innards before heading back to the shuttle stop so we could get food and visit the Aviation Museum.

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With the Aviation Museum explored, our group got back on the shuttle to the main visitor center. On our return, we made our way directly to the USS Bowfin to explore the submarine.

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Preston wouldn’t stop making faces, so here’s his punishment

By the time 4:00 pm rolled around, we were all exhausted from our adventures (and because we were up so early that morning to fly to Honolulu). We flew back to Maui that evening and all promptly passed out in our beds.

Day 4

The next morning my mom and I got up and walked on the beach together. This day was set to be a “down” day because the previous day had been so packed and we had equally lengthy plans for Wednesday.

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On our return to the condo, Ryan and my dad cooked omelets and turkey bacon for everyone. With leisure in mind, my mom, Nich, Ryan, and I headed back down to the water.

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Ryan tried his darnedest to get Nich to follow him out on these rocks he had gotten me on our first night in Maui but he was unsuccessful. Ryan ended up cutting his foot pretty bad in 2 places on some coral and had to head back to the condo shortly after. Nich and my mom stayed down by the water for awhile longer, but I figured I should join my travel buddy upstairs.

For those of you who don’t know, my dad was a paramedic in his early 20’s, and was arguably one of the best fit people to assist Ryan in his injured state. I won’t get into too much more detail about what happened, but I do have a picture that properly summarizes what happened after my dad did the initial clean out and went to bandage the wound:

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That evening, Ryan and I got dressed up and went out to dinner with my parents at a nice restaurant in Lahaina. We sat down about 20 minutes before sunset, and we ended up having such a lovely time that we were at our table for several hours.

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to be continued…

 

Reflection

I try my best to not have two posts like this back to back, but 2018 was one motherf***er of a year in every imaginable and unimaginable way and there’s no avoiding it. There were tremendous highs and absolute rock bottom lows, and each and every one of them deserves to be acknowledged.

I’ve done myself a disservice by not actually dealing with everything that happened in the last year – I sure as hell haven’t been willingly talking about much or any of it, and I’ve been on a writing hiatus for several months.

Family Relations

In 2018, my immediate family members and I hit an all time low in our relationships. It took one R O U G H sit down with everyone in the living room a few months into this year to finally talk about everything that everyone had been keeping in, but it was worth it.

As a direct result of that long conversation and subsequent work put in by all involved, my family now has pretty darn solid communication with one another, and we are back to truly enjoying each other’s company.

Friendships

There are way too many friendships I haven’t properly tended to in the last few years, and boy did I let some of them slide at the beginning of this year. I would like to thank everyone who has stuck with me through the bad and those who are helping me climb my way back out of the deep, dark hole I dug myself. Y’all are the real deal, solid gold, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the constant support, accountability, and tough love you all show me.

Financial decisions

As I write the heading, I can literally hear the lecture I would get from my financial advisor & grandmother if they knew half of the shit I buy in a month. This last year and a half has been the struggle of me finding a balance between “Treat Yo Self” and living minimally.

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In all transparency, I got myself into a really rough financial spot earlier this year and it was no one’s fault other than my own poor choices. I’m definitely working towards a better balance, but I’ve finally found some kind of stability, which is a great start.

Moving out of my parent’s house

Ok, let’s be realistic, everyone still has SOME of their stuff at their parent’s house, so I’m not completely out of their house. Despite that, I am paying rent and bills on top of the bills I was already paying while living with my parents and I no longer have a bed there. Now, not only do I have my family as a support system, but I have Ryan and Brandon’s support (and shenanigans) day in and day out.

Self Care – Physical

I have been severely neglecting my physical health. I had my last doctor’s appointment in October after neglecting my yearly physical (due in February) for approximately 18 months. In that time where I didn’t have a physical, I had more ER/Urgent care trips than I like to admit, and had a whole collection of not-so-stellar symptoms that impacted not only me but those around me.

Self Care – Mental/Emotional

A major thank you goes to my friends and family members who have been custodians of my health extending all the way back to when I refused to acknowledge there were any issues to begin with.

I hit my lowest low shortly after realizing that the “truth” I had been living for a year was a lie – I knew what I signed up for, and it turned out that what I signed up for was never what I received. It took until the day I walked away to realize just how badly I had my trust taken advantage of. I know that in ways I am still processing that fact, and I also know that I am a long way from being near the end of processing it, but every day I make progress.

 

The Take-aways

This year I truly did learn a lot about myself and the kind of life I want to invest in.

  • I started a new job that is the base of a career that I didn’t anticipate in the slightest, but excites me and constantly provides me opportunities to learn and grow
  • I’ve found myself building a life with another person that is a wonderful adventure filled with growth and challenges
  • I had many friendships renewed and strengthened
  • My family relations are arguably stronger than they have been in a very long time, if not ever
  • I got to travel a lot, and I already have many plans for 2019 that provide me with more balance – spoiler alert, I’m taking a BIG break from Disney trips

I’m anxious and excited to see what happens in 2019, and I know the foundation has been laid for it to be a big year. I look forward to continuing to share it with you all!

Major Life Updates!

The last several months have been a tremendous period of growth in my life, and I’ve finally hit a point where I feel like I’m able to update everyone about what has been going on.

On the 4th of July, I left a severely toxic relationship, assisted by my dad and a friend of mine. Just over a month later I left my job of a year and 10 months for a lot of reasons, including concerns for personal safety, and the deep-seated feeling that it was time to move forward from that in a somewhat scary way.

What I mean by that is that I quit my job with nothing lined up to replace it. I had a lot of long conversations with my parents, brother, and others closest to me, and all were supportive of my decision. Since leaving that job, I have been able to begin to really process everything that has been going on the last few years. Some days were easier, and others were tremendously difficult.

With all the changes, many other plans in my life had been on hold/up in the air. Thankfully, my initial ideas for moving forward in life didn’t work out, and life pushed me in a different direction (read: the right direction). Starting about a month ago, actual tangible decisions regarding moving forward were made. Those simple decisions started a chain reaction that caused every other aspect of my life to sort of fall into place.

At the end of September, I moved out of my parent’s house and into a place with Ryan & Brandon – 2 of the most wonderfully supportive people in my life – which had been in the works since March or so.

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We went into our apartment search with the intent to just view a place on the Tuesday we started physically looking. After seeing it, we realized it was perfect, decided to apply, and were accepted not 2 days later. That Saturday was moving day, which we all made work, despite being out of town the week leading up to it, having no real plan for moving logistically, and having absolutely nothing packed. The 3 of us had planned to move in together sometime in fall of 2018, but it was a whirlwind.

When we moved in, we started with just beds and 2 rolls of toilet paper in the house (thanks dad *facepalm*). Thankfully, I still had all of my kitchen stuff from my apartment in Colorado in the barn, so that came in the next day. In the first week, we had a fully fleshed out cable & internet setup, as well as most of our clothes and “important” things moved, and we established a base pantry stock. We also had our base set of cleaning supplies almost immediately.

From the beginning, Ryan wanted a Roomba so that he wouldn’t ever be stuck with the task of vacuuming. No one wanted to pay for a Roomba. By some miracle, we ended up getting a Roomba from someone that hadn’t been used in awhile; all it needed was to be cleaned and get a replacement battery. $25 and 2 hours later, Ryan has his Roomba!

Within 2 weeks, we pulled just about everything together – got a new couch, moved my bedroom set from my parents, have a kitchen table, have the guest room put together, and I just finished re-staining and re-covering chairs to match the table (barn finds!). We still have a few odds and ends to put together, but they are small convenience pieces.

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Ryan already had a job in town, which was a main driver for the move. Brandon found a job in town within a week of the move, and just finished his last 2 weeks of commuting to work.

At the beginning of this month, I spent a few weeks interviewing for a company that offers career opportunities that excite me. This last week, I got a call offering me the job I had been interviewing for. I was ecstatic!

I still have difficult days, but they are few and far apart now. Part of limiting difficult days is restricting social media. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately considering my use of time on my phone, the way I maintain various social media accounts, how effective I feel certain platforms are, etc.

When I started blogging, I knew the day would come that Facebook would become obsolete for me, and my use of it the last year has felt somewhat forced. Please, be advised that Facebook is getting minimal time from me, and that almost all “updates” will be posts shared via this blog & my Instagram.

For those of you who are interested in staying connected in a “social media” way, subscribing to my blog is a great way to do so. To do that, simply scroll past the Archives and Tags widgets on the right hand side of any post or the home page. Below those sections there are options to either follow via WordPress or simply receive email updates about new posts. I also want to take a moment here and thank everyone who already follows or is subscribed!

If you choose the email route, I highly recommend clicking to open the posts in a browser page as the emails don’t show the formatting correctly.. If you don’t want the emails, bookmarking my home page is another solid way to keep tabs on my blog posts.

Also on the topic of the blog, feel free to leave comments on posts. To avoid spam, I have it set up so that I have to approve comments from new commenters to the blog in general. I approve basically everything, so don’t worry if you don’t see your comment immediately.

I’m grateful for a lot of new beginnings: new living situation, renewed relationships with my family members, a new job that I want to make a career of, a new relationship, and new adventures.

As grateful as I am for all the new, I’m thankful for those who have been there and been supportive – the steadfast group that stayed with me even through the worst.

I have made some progress, but there is still a lot more to come. Here’s to the start of getting back to me – more diligently writing, spending time with the people close to me, and finally starting the Colin quilt(s).

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My Revolt Story

Ink Master has been among my favorite competition shows since it’s inception, and in 2014 it introduced me to a few tattoo artists I have dreamed of being tattooed by. One of these artists is Season 4’s runner-up Walter “Sausage” Frank. Since Ink Master, he relocated to Las Vegas and opened a shop, Revolt Tattoos, with Season 3 winner Joey Hamilton (another truly gifted artist). I have driven through the area numerous times since the shop opened, but I had yet to find a design nor actually set foot in the shop. His tattoos are striking, bold, and legible photorealistic designs, and I knew someday I would find myself wanting something sizable, detailed, and meaningful enough to contact him. I also knew my Revolt story would happen organically, when it should, but I never could have guessed what the price of that inspiration would be.

After Colin died, I knew I was going to get something tattooed on my body in remembrance of him, and initially I was decided on red roman numerals on my side of his date of death. Later, after his mom found a zoo worth of owls in his room, my plan changed. I started my artist search around Fresno, but realized that anyone who could accomplish the photorealism that I wanted would be expensive and I would have to wait. It then dawned on me that if I was going to be paying as much as I was and waiting as long as I would be, I might as well go to one of my “dream” artists.

I first contacted the shop in December 2016. I filled out the basic contact form, explaining my flexibility in timeline and in design so long as there was a photorealistic owl. Additionally, I was open to color so long as it was mostly neutral toned. For how much I like to be in control, I was pretty open about what the tattoo would look like.

Through our communication, an appointment was booked for me to come in on October 3, 2017 at 10 a.m.

From the inception of the idea, I decided I was going to make a small trip out of this appointment. I chose to not fly for a number of reasons, but fortunately for me, I have made the drive between Fresno and Vegas half a dozen times and find it relatively easy.

As it turned out, Emily’s bridal shower was the Saturday before near Pasadena, so it made sense for me to go down then, stay in the LA area, and then head to Las Vegas from there (my last post, “SoCal Adventures,” details that part of the trip). As it turned out, I made my way to Las Vegas on October 2nd.

October 2nd in Las Vegas turned out to be a dramatically different day than I had planned. The original itinerary I had included going to the Luxor to see the Bodies Exhibit, and possibly walking The Strip. With the shooting the night before, everything was closed and eerie, so I loitered in LA a little while longer than intended. I took myself to breakfast at Twisted Sage, a place my darling Sarynna had showed me on my trip with her to Azusa nearly a month before. From there, I headed into Vegas, drove past the Strip on I-15 before getting off the freeway, after which I checked into and sat in my hotel room for awhile before heading to a Yard House that was south of The Strip right off the freeway.

The following day, I had my appointment which was far and away the most well documented tattooing experience I have ever had.

My mom and aunt drove into Vegas that morning from Fresno, arriving at the hotel around 9 a.m. They ate breakfast, took their stuff to the room, and then we made our way to Revolt.

I met Walter Frank for the first time just after 10 a.m. as we discussed in more detail what I was looking for. Through our talks and looking at pictures, we decided moving the image to my hip from my side would be a better decision as far as fit, size, and longevity were concerned. This move required me to change out of the yoga pants and athletic shirt I had originally worn to the shop and into a dress which would allow easier access to my hip.

Almost 2 hours later, we had a sketch, he prepped his station, and we were ready to apply the stencil.

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Walter’s Station

The shop offers live streams of their tattoos, so I took this opportunity to share the link to Walter’s station so that friends and family not present could watch the process unfold.

The course of the next 5 1/2 hours consisted of lots of tattooing, lots of jokes about ass, and walking breaks. I’ve included the “progression” pictures below:

**BLOOD WARNING**

I wanted the owl’s eyes to be Colin’s eyes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, his eyes were a dark brown that became a vibrant green in direct light. The group present acted as voting committee of how to best do them in the likeness of his eyes as to not get too muddy with the black of the outline and the pupils. We opted for a green color toward the center, becoming brown at the edges.

Applying the wrap that would cover it for the next 4 days

Walter was such a great artist to sit for. He humored our questions, sass, and the emotions associated with what we were there for for nearly 6 hours that day.

Whole gang post-tattoo

We ended up leaving the shop around 6 p.m., heading to Yard House for dinner. That evening was highly emotional, and we were all spent by the time we got to dinner. We all were asleep by 9 p.m.

The day following my appointment, we all made the drive back to Fresno.

I am so happy with my experience and the end result. This trip helped create a small light in an otherwise grim situation. As much as I don’t like the fact that my reason for going to Walter was to memorialize Colin, there is no one I would have rather had as my artist.

3 1/2 weeks later

2016 – A Year in Review

2016 was one hell of a year. From start to finish I never quite knew what was coming around the corner, and for some of that I am thankful.

I will start with the bad that the year brought, because I don’t believe it should be skated around. This year took 2 family members from us, and both were shocking. In late July, my late grandfather’s wife died, and the beginning of November took Colin. I lost others in my life this year, but in grossly different ways. This year was also the year I had to leave Colorado, a state I fell in love with.

The bad of 2016 was pretty bad. There is no way to sugarcoat it. It would be very easy to write the whole year off as a loss. Despite that, there were some great moments.

I completed a 10-week senior thesis with my sanity intact and I graduated college with University Honors. Course schedules brought a long-time Facebook friend and I into each other’s paths, and our friendship is something I am so grateful for. I got to spend a few short months with some people who made the bulk of my last semester in college tolerable. I got to stand by one of my best friends as she married her best friend, and I got to see a life-long friend get engaged as well. I got to meet extended family members whom I might not have otherwise met, and reconnected with others I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. Better yet, a cousin that lives out of state got to visit because she wanted to, not because she had to. This year gave me a very real look at the people in my life, and I gained a new appreciation for those who are by my side. There were also a lot of new relationships that formed and opportunities that presented themselves, and they have paved a road that I am excited about continuing down. I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit as well. I got to finally take my family to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. More than that, I got to go to Redwoods National and State Parks for the first time, and I got a Yosemite National Park annual pass which I have been taking advantage of.

2017 is sure to be another year with highs and lows, and I am ready to see what it has to teach me about myself and those in my life.