Bachelorette Party

Two weekends ago I had my bachelorette party at my apartment in NYC. Even though many of my girlfriends had been asking about a bachelorette party after I got engaged, I wasn’t planning on having one because I didn’t feel like organizing it and I didn’t know where to do it. I would have loved to do something fancy and go to my fav city, London, for a long weekend but I knew that would rule many people out due to the cost. Others suggested Vegas but I’m not really a Vegas kind of gal. Therefore, when Kevin told me he was going out of town for a “boy’s weekend” the first weekend in March, my girlfriend Tiffany suggested I have my bachelorette party that same weekend, and since Kevin would be out of town we could do it in NYC and those visiting from out of town would have a free place to stay.

At first I was hesitant about it, but after I sent a note out inviting my closest friends and family, they really took charge and helped to plan an amazing weekend. I thought the party was just going to be on Saturday, but since two of my cousins and one of my best friends from Michigan already flew in on Friday night, we kicked things off a day early. After work on Friday I headed downtown to Seaport to see a movie at iPic Theaters. It was awesome. iPic is a new luxury dine-in theater. We ordered pizza to share and some cocktails while comfortably reclined to watch a movie. We saw Fifty Shades Darker which I thought was fitting for the weekend too. The movie was what I expected but the whole experience was neat and I’m looking forward to going again as a treat.

Since we knew we had a long Saturday planned full of activities, we didn’t drink too much and went to bed at a reasonable hour. Then on Saturday morning we kick-started the day with a spin class at my fav studio, Monster Cycle, with my fav instructor Michael who made sure to play some of my fav songs including Diplo and YellowClaw. We reserved all the bikes in the front row and wore matching gold kitty ears that Tiffany bought and spray painted for the party 🙂  It was cute and everyone had a good workout.

After working out we came back to my apartment to shower and then GlamSquad came to give us all blowouts. We vegged out and talked while taking turns getting our hair done.  Bottles also started popping and we all were enjoying a fair amount of prosecco so I ordered in some pizzas too to make sure everyone was properly fueled.  Once GlamSquad was done with everyone’s hair, we put on makeup then played a quick game, opened presents, and got some group pics before  changing into our going-out outfits.

From there were grabbed two Ubers and headed uptown to dinner at Robert in Columbus Circle. There was a nice view overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park and the food was pretty good too. What was even better was that Jordan Peele was sitting at a nearby table, so we were all a little starstruck. Since it was still relatively early after dinner,  we went to The Plaza for more drinks before the club. It was kind of like an adult pre-game. The Plaza is beautiful and it wasn’t very crowded so we got a table and shared two bottles of prosecco. The ambiance was amazing and the table was a large circular table so we all got to face each other and talk. There was a lot of toasting and everyone shared some of their favorite “Kayla moments.” It was very special.

Then we hopped in Ubers again and headed to 1 Oak. I was the one who had suggested getting a table at a club for my bachelorette party because none of us go anymore and are usually sleeping by midnight so I felt like it would be my last hurrah. We didn’t want to get there too early because we heard it only gets better the later it gets, so we got there around 1:30am. We all felt a little awkward at first so I downed my first drink pretty fast and the rest of the night passed quickly and was a blur from there filled with lots of laughter, dancing, and plenty of alcohol. BTW, having a table was amazing, and if I ever go to a club again, I only want to go if we have a table. It was like we had our own little stage and it kept the creepers away.

We stayed at 1 Oak until the club closed at 4am and I cannot believe we stayed out that late. I went to bed immediately once we got back to my apartment with my dress and makeup still on and everything! Then around 9am I was woken up to get a hangover IV from my doctor that was scheduled beforehand. I had read about IVs to help re-hydrate people after a long night partying and I was anxious to see if it actually worked, so my amazing friends did me a solid and booked it. My doc included anti-nausea medicine in the IV as well. I still felt like crap afterwards, but considering most of the girls were dead to the world and two of them even threw up that day, I think the IV saved me.

I felt well enough after the IV to want to go out for breakfast, so me and a few of the remaining girls went to Laduree nearby before everyone went their separate ways. I slept pretty much the rest of the day and had the opportunity to catch up more one-on-one  with my bestie Becca that still lives in Michigan which was nice too.

My bachelorette party was an absolute blast and went better than I could have hoped for. Many of my friends had never met prior to that weekend and I was nervous mixing different groups, but everyone got along really well. I really felt the love from everyone and they truly planned the best day for me for which I will be eternally grateful. I also loved the decorations in my apartment spearheaded by Tiffany. They printed out a dozen pictures of “hot men and cats” and put them all over the apartment which also went along nicely with the semi-animal theme including the gold cat ears for everyone and gold sea animal figurines scattered along the dining room table. One of my gifts from Alison and Kelly was a pink frosted cup that said “I’m getting meowied” which was super cute and fit in with the theme too. We all liked it so much that we actually made one of the hashtags for the evening #KaylasGettingMeowied – It was perfect.

I am a lucky girl to have such amazing, smart, beautiful friends who came to celebrate with me 🙂

Presidents’ Day 2017 Weekend in Aspen

I went to Aspen for the first time over Presidents’ Day weekend this year. We weren’t able to get a direct flight so we flew to Chicago first and then on to Aspen, and on the way back our layover was in Denver. It wasn’t too bad of a flight though. Plus, Aspen is totally worth it. We got two days of skiing in on Saturday and Sunday before flying back on Monday but I would have loved to stay and ski more.

We got to Aspen late Friday evening and stayed with some friends who are renting one of the Ritz Carlton Villas. The place was really nice and much bigger than I was expecting; It was like an actual home with a huge kitchen, living room, multiple bedrooms, and a basement lounge area with a shuffleboard. After dropping off our stuff we had a nice dinner followed by seeing a comedy show. We were lucky to be in town to see Adam Sandler and David Spade who was his opener.

For the next two days we skied a lot at Snowmass, got some mogul practice in, and then the day would end with a nice dinner and lots of great wine. Saturday afternoon was extra special because we were able to get into Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro. I had no idea what to expect but it was so much fun. I think this review I found on Yelp sums it up pretty well–

Also, fun fact, Cloud 9 is Veuve Clicquot’s #1 Account in the Country.  That should give you an idea of how many bottles are popped on a daily basis there.

Although we were seated outside and didn’t partake in the champagne shower, I still got a good feel for the place and I loved the energy. We had plenty of fun too sharing a magnum of wine and raclette which I had never had before. I had so much fun and it was definitely a unique experience for me.

I had been to Colorado before and skied in Vail twice, but Aspen is on a whole other level. Not only is it clean and picturesque, it also attracts the uber-wealthy. I honestly felt a little poor being surrounded by all these people decked out in Moncler uniforms dropping thousands of dollars on booze. The town itself screams wealthy too–in town you can find all designer stores.

Overall it was one of my favorite ski trips and I cannot wait to go back!

Book Review

I have been reading a lot lately and have been enjoying spending more time with  books rather than having my eyes glued to a screen…well, I guess I still do a fair amount of TV watching, but either way, below are some of the most recent books I’ve read. I’ve listed them in order from least to most liked.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – It was fantasy novel which I wasn’t expecting and it isn’t my normal genre pick but it was still entertaining and nice to read something different.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – It is her short story that won an Edgar Award in 2015…I def didn’t realize it was just a short story when I downloaded in on my phone so after I read it in like two minutes I was like, wait, that’s it? Also, am I the only one that was like wtf was that?

Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes – Consisted of a bunch of short stories. Honestly, I can’t remember most of them but they all had a similar theme.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – Was a book recommended to me since I’ve liked Gillian Flynn novels but it wasn’t that great.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman – I really enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as predictable as I had been expecting and I enjoyed the unlikely friendships that formed. It was also a good “don’t judge a book by its cover” novel.

The Possessions by Sarah Flannery Murphy–I just finished this one today and I only started it last week. It reminded me of Stephanie Meyer’s The Host.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang – highly entertaining. I loved it and really liked all the characters in the Wang family.

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler – obsessed with this book and couldn’t put it down. I was sad that I finished it. I also really liked Danler’s style of writing. I will be looking out for more of her work.

 

Christmas 2016 in Mont Tremblant

The past six years I’ve been living in NYC, I’ve always flown back to Michigan to spend Christmas with my family. This year, since I had already gone to Michigan three times for work, to see a Michigan football game with my parents, and for my cousin Dayna’s wedding, and since I hadn’t gone skiing all year, Kevin and I decided to spend Christmas just the two of us on a ski trip. We have been to Vail, Park City, and Tahoe a few times, so we did some research and ended up choosing Mont Tremblant because it was a short flight from NYC and looked nice. We flew into Montreal which was only about an hour flight and then we took a bus up to Mt. Tremblant which took about 75 minutes.

Mt Tremblant is a quaint ski village in Canada. We stayed at the Westin which was a short walk to the gondola to the chair lifts. We had three ski days and had a quiet Christmas together. There was low visibility the first day and then the slopes were pretty icy which I hate. Also, it was really cold. The temperature was down to 9* Fahrenheit. Although, the trees were pretty because they were completely covered in pretty white snow. My favorite part of skiing were the off trail moguls. The other thing I liked about Mt. Tremblant were the Beaver Tails which are a delicious desert of fried dough covered in your choice of sauce and sugary toppings.  I tried two different kinds 🙂

The last night before flying back to NYC we stayed in Montreal. I had never been to Montreal so I wanted to explore a bit. We took a cab from our hotel by the airport into the city. First we went to the Biodome to see four different ecosystems and the animals that live in each. That was my fav. The little monkeys were SUPER cute and I also spotted a sloth climbing across a pole at the top of the dome. We also got to see the penguin feeding which was pretty cute.

Afterwards we tried to see a movie after but surprisingly all of the movies were in French with no subtitles which was a little odd because it seemed like the majority of the people were speaking English. Then we walked around the city for a bit. We tried to go in the Notre-Dame Basilica which is where Celine Dion got married but they charge to just walk in and I didn’t really care that much. There wasn’t much else to do so we walked around some more and then found a spot for dinner. Luckily the restaurant we went to was very good. We had delicious homemade spaghetti and cheesy garlic bread at a place called L’Usine de Spaghetti.

Overall it was a nice trip and it was nice to get away, but it wasn’t as much fun as I had been expecting. The ski conditions were a little disappointing that weekend and I wasn’t in love with Montreal. After four days I was ready to go back to NYC. I’m glad I got to experience Mt. Tremblant but I don’t know if I’ll go back anytime soon.


The Nest and Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty

It just happened that I picked two books to read that had to do with families either born into wealth or that were expecting a large inheritance. Despite being in different time periods with one of the novels, The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, taking place current day and the other novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel, taking place in the 1970s, there were many similar themes including love, ones career, motherhood, and mortality.

One of the parallels between the two novels is that money can take over ones mind and change relationships. Another is the inevitability of getting old and how one feels invisible with age. There was an eeriness to protagonist Fern in Sons and Daughter of Ease and Plenty and her family’s belief to take one out of one’s misery when he/she gets too old to prevent tarnishing one’s image by letting others see the deterioration. Lastly, both novels explored motherhood through women with different parenting styles (some much more involved and maternal than others) and how becoming a mother ultimately alters ones career.

I loved The Nest and I like that the Plumb family’s chase of money and final acceptance that it wasn’t coming forced them to alter the course of their lives and they ultimately became happier for it. Spoiler alert, I was still hoping that Leo would come through at the end either to see the family finally take a stand against him and officially outcast him like he had done to them or to see him repair his relationships and repay his family for what he had taken, but I was still happy with the novel regardless. I suppose in a way I did like the bittersweet ending. I enjoyed Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty as well but I didn’t like the characters or style of writing as much as Cynthia’s. I am glad that I coincidentally read both similarly themed books back to back though to compare and to see how expansive with many different directions novels can go while holding similar themes.

“Nothing was more terrifying than what familiar could do to each other.” – Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

Summer Runcation in the Poconos

A few weeks ago I went on a runcation in the Poconos with Ketanga Fitness. For those who have never heard of a “runcation” it is a vacation where you go running; a mix of relaxing and running–for funsies. I originally wanted to go away for a yoga retreat but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money and I didn’t want to take more than one day off of work. I wasn’t able to find any yoga retreats during the timeframe I was looking for and Kevin mentioned something to his trainer about it. His trainer then suggested we look at Ketanga Fitness. They put on a bunch of different retreats like boxing and running in a variety of locations.

We chose a closer runcation within driving distance from the city that was three days long. I took a Friday off work and Kevin and I drove the 1 hour 45 minutes to the Mountaintop Lodge in the Poconos by Lake Naomi. The drive there was sunny and pleasant in our rented convertible. After checking in and meeting everyone we got to relax for a bit before our first evening workout. We met in the backyard of the Inn and did strength training drills and short sprints. After our first workout we had a little champagne toast on the porch then got ready for dinner. We had dinner at a restaurant within walking distance of the Inn, Jubilee, which actually had some good food. I thought it was cool that everyone had a drink and didn’t take things too seriously. I’ve always assumed that a running retreat and drinking wouldn’t mix, but we were all able to relax and unwind with one or two drinks without wrecking ourselves for the run the next morning.

On Saturday morning we woke up fairly early for a morning run. After warming up with some exercises we did some speed and endurance work on a trail loop in the woods. It ended up being about three miles. After breakfast we were free to do what we wanted. Some of the others went to lay out at the pool but Kevin and I decided to go for a little drive and then we ended up going to a quaint nearby town to see a movie. After grabbing a bite (love me some some subs and junk food at Wawa’s) we got ready for our second workout of the evening. We found a large flat grassy area where we did more strength training drills and short sprints. That evening we all went out for a hibachi dinner which was a lot of fun.

On Sunday morning we had our final run and my favorite of the weekend. We did a longer six mile trail run. It was fun and I felt really good. It had been a while since I’ve run three consecutive days in a row. Normally I’ll mix it up a do yoga, boxing, or spinning in addition to running once a week, but it felt really good to be out in nature running.

Before we all went our separate ways we had one final meal together as a group. The other people on the runcation with me and Kev were pretty cool and we had a good time getting to know a little about each other. The trip was also a perfect way to get Kevin to ease into running, and running has now become another activity we can do together. Most people may think that running and vacation together is a paradox, but not only was there a good amount of free time to chill, the runs were also pleasant being out in the wilderness away from the city. Also, the runs on this trip weren’t especially long or difficult. We definitely challenged ourselves but the distances were short enough and the people on the trip were at various levels so that no one was left in the dust. Overall we had a great time and I would definitely sign up for another runcation.

Winter Broadway Shows

I saw three shows recently this past winter that were all extremely good. They kept me captivated the entire performance and left me smiling afterward which I definitely think qualifies them as being good shows.

First I saw Something Rotten! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but a friend saw it and said it was good and I wanted a lighter comedy. Something Rotten! is a story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rockstar (William Shakespeare). When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the worlds very first MUSICAL!

A few weeks later I saw Noises Off on Broadway. I had not yet heard of the show, but Kevin got two free tickets from a friend so we figured why not. Noises Off ended up being hilarious. It was even better than Something Rotten! in my opinion which was nominated for some Tony Awards. Seeing a show for free is awesome, but it is even better when the show is unexpectedly great. I was laughing the entire time. Megan Hilty, the blonde in Smash, is in the show which I also didn’t know.Noises Off follows an ambitious director named Lloyd Davis and his troupe of mediocre actors as they blunder from a bad dress rehearsal to a spectacularly disastrous performance. The cast and crew are putting together a silly sex comedy titled, Nothing On a single-set farce in which lovers frolic, doors slam, clothes are tossed away and embarrassing hi-jinks ensue. It was cool seeing all of the drama taking place off stage which was just as comical as the script for their on-stage characters.

Last but certainly not least, I saw the critically acclaimed Hamilton the musical on Broadway. I actually bought tickets for Kevin for Christmas this year. I was going back and forth about getting them because tickets were sold out and they were really expensive on StubHub, but I heard Hamilton is as big as The Book of Mormon, so I ended up sucking it up and getting them. I’m really glad I did because Kevin and I both really enjoyed it. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer, lyricist, and star of Hamilton is amazing. It was so refreshing to see him on stage watching him do something original that everyone seems to be getting so much joy from. I read more about his story in The New Yorker.

I think David Cote’s review of Hamilton in Time Out New York sums it up well, I love Hamilton. I love it like I love New York, or Broadway when it gets it right. And this is so right… A sublime conjunction of radio-ready hip-hop (as well as R&B, Britpop and trad showstoppers), under-dramatized American history and Miranda unique personal focus as a first-generation Puerto Rican and inexhaustible wordsmith, Hamilton hits multilevel culture buttons, hard… The work and drama and novelistic density remain astonishing.

Hamilton is up for a Grammy award for Best Musical Theater Album which I hope it wins. It is one of the few show albums I’ve actually looked up after because I liked the music so much. I currently have it saved on my Spotify list.

I lucked out with three back-to-back shows that I really enjoyed, and I’m very happy I was able to see them.

End of Winter Fun 2016

It has been several weeks since my last post and a lot has happened in my life. Here’s the short and sweet:

  1. New job – I got a new job the end of January at ABC which was really exciting. It was a good move for my career and so far I really like it.
  2. Yellow Claw – I went on a spontaneous trip to see Yellow Claw in concert in Philly at the Fillmore Philadelphia music venue. I felt a little old because most of the people there weren’t even old enough to drink and they looked like they were all on drugs but it was still fun
  3. Blacktap – I love dessert and I needed to see what all the fuss was about at The Blacktap. Their giant milkshakes toppling with full size cookies was good but looked a little better than it tasted in my opinion. I consider myself a dessert connoisseur and I’ve had better.
  4. Wedding – We celebrated Kev’s friend and former co-worker’s wedding in New Jersey
  5. Blackbird – I saw Blackbird on Broadway starring Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels –it was intense and good
  6. Wicked – I finally saw Wicked on Broadway with my friend Kelly–I can’t believe I haven’t seen it sooner; it was magical (pun intended)
  7. Irfan Onurmen – I’ve been a fan of Irfan Onurmen’s work for about a year, so I went to his opening reception at C24 Gallery and he did not disappoint. I have my eyes on another piece of his artwork now
  8. NYC Visitors & The Whitney Museum – My cousin Jade stayed with me over her spring break–my only family member to come to NYC to see me other than my parents and brother. We had fun walking the highline and checking out The Whitney. My favorite exhibit was the Open Plan.“”Open Plan, an experimental five-part exhibition using the Museum‰غھs dramatic fifth-floor as a single open gallery, unobstructed by interior walls. The largest column-free museum exhibition space in New York, the Neil Bluhm Family Galleries measure 18,200 square feet and feature windows with striking views east into the city and west to the Hudson River, making for an expansive and inspiring canvas.””When we went, Andrea Fraser had the space. She kept the floor entirely open and had only had audio playing which was recorded at a correctional facility. The exhibit showed the juxtaposition of a huge open space with freedom to roam about and the sound of small spaces, doors and locks within prison closures.
  9. Engagement – Kev and I celebrated our 5-year anniversary. He took me to dinner at Blossom in Chelsea, the restuarant he took me on our first date five years ago. That evening at home he proposed.
  10. Easter – I flew home for less than 48 hours for Easter. It was important for me to see my extended family members in person to announce my big news before telling the rest of the world about the engagement. I had a good time at home and even more fun playing with baby Kasper and Frodo who are the two cutest kitties ever (other than Pants and Boots of course!)

Book Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Pity the poor in spirit who know neither the enchantment nor the beauty of language.””

I just finished a wonderful novel by French author, Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It was an intellectual, bordering philosophical read that often had me questioning my own ways of life. Barbery’s words stimulate the mind. She is able to take a single, often overlooked concept, and lift a transparent veil in order for the reader to perceive it in a different way. There was one short chapter in particular that I read over again just because the concept was so simplistically brilliant. It was about the beauty of sliding doors and how it is much more thoughtful of space than traditional swinging doors that destroy the unity of a space.
“”When movement has been banished from a nature that seeks its continuity, when it becomes renegade and remarkable by virtue of its very discontinuity, it attains the level of aesthetic creation. Because art is life, playing to other rhythms.””

I don’t want to give anything away, but the over-arching message of the novel is to try to be a less self-consumed, perceptive human being in order to really get to know others. It’s also a novel about how looks can be deceiving. The two main characters are a fifty four year old woman, Renee, and a twelve year old girl, Paloma, who are extremely intelligent but try to hide it from others. Although there are parts in the novel that are rather melancholy, like the fact that the twelve year old wants to commit suicide because she can’t stand her elitist family and has no one she can really be herself around, there are other uplifting moments that inspire hope. It’s hard to imagine having many profound thoughts racing through your head everyday and not being able to share your feelings and insights. But the beauty of this novel is that just when Paloma thinks there is no other way she can go on living her life, an unexpected door opens and she realizes that she, in fact, is not alone in the world. Sometimes it takes a really long time to find out what/who you need, but once it’s found it all becomes worth the wait and you feel more appreciative of what you have.

I don’t recommend this book to anyone who wants a fluffy, light novel. It does require a bit of thinking, not only because the rich use of vocabulary but also because there are a lot of French references to places/history/etc. that I did not know. The brief summary on the back cover of the novel does not do it justice. It was when I was almost half way in The Elegance of the Hedgehog that it finally clicked and I began really connecting with the novel and its characters. This is a novel that I would definitely consider re-reading in the future. If anything, this book reminded me not to underestimate someone simply based on their profession, age, or looks, and to take in my surroundings each and every day. As the title suggests, a “”hedgehog”” may look rough on the outside but may be a beautiful creature underneath all of the spikes.

My novel rating: 4.5/5 stars

Maui Trip and 28th Birthday

I brought in my 28th birthday while on vacation in Maui. I had been to Hawaii twice before with my family, but it was my first trip there as an adult. Kevin and I flew in on Sunday morning. We stayed at the Westin which wasn’t the best hotel I’ve stayed in, but it was nice enough. The property itself, including an artificial waterfall that housed five flamingos, a black and white swan, and a bunch of coy fish, was nice. The room wasn’t the nicest but luckily we didn’t spend much time in it.

On our first day in Maui we justrelaxedat the adult pool all day. There were a lot of families with young children, so I was very glad that there was a cleaner, quieter adult pool to swim in. OnTuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning we woke up very early to drive 45 minutes south to Kiheito go scuba diving. We dove with Mike Severns diving company all three days. The dive instructors were fabulous. They were really friendly and knowledgeable about each of the dive areas. Before each dive they did a ten minute education session during whichthey’d bring out a book to point outthe kind of things we should be on the lookout for at the dive site.

Diving was the highlight of my trip. We did two dives each day, and while they now seem to have all burred together, we saw new, cool things everyday, even on some of the dives at the same dive sites we had been to the day before. Each day we would do the first dive at Molokini whichis a crescent-shaped, partially submerged volcanic crater (pic below).Its crescent shape protects the coral from waves and the channel’s powerful currents which makes it an idea scuba diving spot. After the first dive we would go to another spot closer to the Maui shore.

One of the dive sites we went to was St. Anthony’s Ship Wreck. It was me and Kevin’s first ship wreck dive so we were excited about it.Even though the St. Anthony’s Wreck was intentionally sunk in 1997 as an artificial reef, it was still cool. The wreck is 65 feet long.There is also a tire reef just off the wreck which consists of groups of old tires stuck to concrete blocks. The wreck reef does attract a lot of different sea life. One of the fish we were briefed on beforehand was the frogfish which is a fish that looks like a blog and is spectacular at camouflaging itself, and I was lucky enough to see it during my dive…well, actually, I would have missed the little blob if our instructor hadn’t pointed it out.

Some other cool stuff we encountered was aa shrimp eating a starfish and a starfish eating an urchin. The shrimp had tackled an entire starfish and when our instructor tried to take it from the shrimp to show their behavior, the little shrimp held on tightly and didn’t let the starfish go even though we are so much larger than the little guy. It was impressive to watch. On another dive we were all admiring a beautiful, large starfish and then when it started swimming/drifting away it left what looked like a bloody rock behind. It was the craziest thing. Afterwards I asked our instructor what the heck it was and he explained that the starfish eats sea urchins by basically swallowing them whole, and what we saw was the starfish disposing the rest of it. So cool.

My favorite sea life we saw on the trip though were sea turtles and whales–yes, whales! Apparently late April is late in the season for whales to still be hanging out, but I’m glad they were. We saw a mom,her calf and an “”escort.”” We saw them pretty clearly on the boat but hearing them underwater was even more spectacular. I have never experienced anything like it. When you’re underwater you don’t hear a lot. I mainly hear the sound of my regulator/equipment as we’re breathing underwater, any boats driving by nearby, and sometimes a crackling noise which is actually the sound of a tiny shrimp. The whales however are super vocal and while seeing them from the boat was neat, I think hearing them communicate underwater was even better. I didn’t see them while I was diving but for how clear I could hear them it felt like they were a few feet away rather than a few hundred feet away.

I am also obsessed with sea turtles so I told our instructors that I really wanted to see some. On the last day of our last dive we came upon a little cove where three were hanging out. At first I wasn’t really watching anything underwater because I was busy trying not to breathe/make too much noise so I could listen to the whales, but then I saw the turtles. One of the male turtles was cozying up to another turtle (i’m assuming female) and another male turtle tried getting closer to them to turtle #1’s dislike, so turtle #1 nipped at turtle #2 until he swam away. Then Turtle #1 and #3 kind of just laid there. I was so giddy at stumbling across not one but three turtles. I wanted to take a million pictures but I also didn’t want to get too close and scare them away. Sea turtles are really beautiful creatures and it was the perfect way to end our last dive of the trip.

As far as food, there were two places we liked. We loved Star Noodle. Kev and I split several things from the menu and loved everything. Friends and co-workers also highly recommendedMama’s Fish House, so I made dinner reservations there for my birthday that Thursday.Mama’s Fish Housewas tight on reservations so we weren’t able to get in until 8:30pm but we got there a little early to have drinks at the bar first and we ended up just eating at the bar. The bartenders kept talking to the elderly couple sitting next to us and it wasn’t until they left that our bartender informed us that that was actually “”Mama”” herself and how she is still very active with the restaurant and has to approve any new menu additions or changes. The food was okay as far as vegetarian options but I liked the ambiance and the cocktail menu.

On our last day in Maui, since we spent a lot of time in/underwater, we planned a land activity. I wanted to do the Road to Hana but I read that the narrow roads were a little scary so I decided to do a tour rather than have Kevin drive us. Kev and I ended up being the only ones on the tour that day, but we didn’t mind because it was like our own private tour van. First we drove to Haleakala Crater whichlooks like another planet and apparently astronauts have been taken there for training because the surface does resemble that of another planet. What is interesting is that Mt. Haleakala is not actually atypical crater formed by volcanic activity. Haleakala Crater was formed over eons as the result of erosion of the entire volcanic mountain top. Over time, smaller lava flows back-filled the eroding valley, building up the floor of the Haleakala Crater.

We were at 10,023 feet at the Haleakala Crater Viewpoint literally above the clouds which was a stark contrast to the 100 ft. we were below surface the day before while scuba diving. Being so high in the sky, it was also quite windy. I actually felt afraid of heights at that altitude. After checking out the crater we drove back down the mountain and toHo’okipa Beach for lunch.Ho’okipa Beach is right by Mama’s Fish House, but since we went there for dinner and it was already dark, we didn’t see the beach. I’m glad we stopped there to have lunch because I was able to see a bunch of sea turtles swim up to shore to nap. It was cool seeing them close up on the beach but I have to admit that I got a little more satisfaction seeing them in their primary habitat in the water.

After lunch we continued on to the rainforest part of the tour. While driving the Road to Hana it’s easy to not realize that you’re driving through/around an actual rainforest. Throughout the tour our guide told us a lot of interesting things about native Hawaiians and the importance of preserving their ancestry as well as the history of how the road to Hana came to be. Although…Kevin was probably a bit more interested in that stuff than I was. I was glad I got to see more of Maui butI didn’t love the full day-long Crater and Rainforest tour nearly as much as the diving. It probably had to do with the fact that we were stuck in the car driving the majority of the time and I would have liked to be out of the car walking around and exploring more.

Our trip to Maui went by extremely fast, but I had a great time and I was really anxious for a tropical vacation. The trip was also about a month after me and Kev’s engagement, so it kind of felt like an engagement-moon 😉