Sunday, February 28, 2010

Waikiki Wonderfulness

Good morning from Hawaii! I have a ton of pictures I'd love to share with you! All of these pictures were taken at or right outside our hotel on Waikiki Beach. We're off to hike to a waterfall and we're going snorkeling later today.

I hope you enjoy perusing these:


Aloha from Hawaii!

We are having an amazing time on Oahu, minus the whole tsunami scare this morning. This place is truly paradise! Here is a little preview of our trip so far. Many more details and pictures to come, so stay tuned.

Hiking Diamond Head:

Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial:

Whelp, Blogger isn't letting me upload more pictures right now, so more soon on Waikiki, the Hale Koa Hotel, North Shore and the tsunami (or lack there of, thank goodness). The best thing besides the mai tia's, escaping the tsunami and the beautiful island in general is that I saw a sea turtle today! So special!

We are IN LOVE with Hawaii!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It may be a desert, but you wont go thirsty

On the way back from Montezuma, we begun passing winery after winery along the Verde Valley Wine Trail and decided to stop into one for a tasting. Oak Creek Winery has it's own 10-acre vineyards and is family owned. They had a nice selection of whites: Chardonnay, Fume' Blanc, Viognier, reds: Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and dessert wines: Arizona Cream Sherry and Arizona Port Wine.
We came away with a bottle of the Fume' Blanc (which I totally fell in love with as a sweet white wine lover), and a bottle of the delicious Merlot.

If you're looking for a non-alcoholic beverage something I found last time we were here is Honest Tea and Ade.
They are organic, have only a teeny bit of sugar, are fair trade, and in addition to the yummy drink, the bottles are fully recyclable (PETE 1), Phthalates free, don't leach, and require less energy to produce and ship. Additionally, they are not made with the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA). Honest Tea uses sustainable, green energy and contributes to causes such as First Nation and Community Green. So try one of these and you'll be benefiting your body, environment and community!


Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, finally, and we set out to checkout Montezuma to learn about prehistoric cultures, the Hohokam to the south and the Northern Sinagua to the north, that once lived in the Verde Valley, present day Flagstaff.

First we went to the Montezuma Castle, a 5 story, 20 room dwelling built into a cliff 100 feet up by the Southern Sinagua in the 1100s CE. Next door is another castle that used to be a 6-story building with 45 rooms.
Next we drove over to the Montezuma Well. It is a limestone sink formed by the collapse of an underground cavern. It is spring fed continuously and was used by the Southern Sinagua farmers for their crops.

There are many dwellings that range from large 50 room houses to single room pueblos. 150 - 200 Southern Sinagua people lived here from 1125 - 1400.

The Southern Sinagua disappeared in the early 1400's. The cause is unknown, but possible reasons are population, lack of natural resources, disease, conflicts, weather changes or spiritual beliefs. They may have migrated to the pueblo villages to the north or Hohokam villages in the south.

Pretty interesting history!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Snow in Sedona!

Today it snowed in Sedona and we went out to see the sights through the snow flurries. We were here last May and it has been really fun to see Sedona in a different season.

Eventually the sun did come out a bit and we saw some blue sky.

We are enjoying the beauty of Sedona!

Healthy(er) Chocolate!

If you are anything like me you love chocolate. And I love anything that makes chocolate a slightly less guilty indulgence. I love this fantastic cafe in Sedona called ChocolaTree. It is 100% organic, live, and vegetarian as well as raw, gluten and processed sugar-free. It is a family run business dedicated to sustainable harvesting and gardening. Everything on their menu is organic, locally grown and/or wild and bioavailable.

Organic, vegan, stone-ground, fair-trade ingredients, all make up the fabulous handmade, raw chocolates. The raw cacao bean is a very nutritious superfood. Chocolate you usually find at your grocery store contains additional ingredients, chemical additives and little (if any) of the nutrition that was once in the raw cacao beans due to the cooking process that destroys much of the enzymes.

I am all kinds of into this type of thing so, I indulged guilt free knowing my treat is not only good for my body, but also for the environment. Win win.

Rain rain go away!

Currently it is snowing/raining in Sedona. Arizona is supposed to be one of the most sunniest states, what the heck?!

Yesterday was cold, rainy and cloudy, but we were able to get out a little bit. Boots and I regularly enjoy going for runs and decided to get some fresh air and stretch our legs a bit. Well, running at about 5,000 feet up gigantic hills made my lungs feel like they were going to explode. Boots and I got up the first hill and started seriously rethinking our great idea to go run. I felt like I was back to square one with my running. My burning lungs were compensated with the beautiful, panoramic views of the snow topped red rock mountains. So worth it! I don't have any desire at this point to run a marathon, but running has always been something I enjoy. I'm looking forward to getting back down to sea level and out of the snow. I'm sure my expanding thighs will appreciate it too.

My father-in-law is a great outdoors man and loves geocaching. We went out for a drive and checked some caches along the way.

We had dinner at a wonderful local place where the chef was also the owner and hugged and talked to us as we came in. We continued to drive up the mountain side to an old copper mining village where the houses clung to the cliff face and the road winded between the sheer drop off on one side and towering mountain side on the other.

Northern Arizona is so incredibly beautiful!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Relaxing in Sedona

Yesterday I said one last I Love You to my Mommy before the cab took me off to the airport. I tried to keep it together, but I was a teary, runny nose, heavy heart person the whole trip.

Boots and I both arrived in AZ yesterday with no problems and once being reunited with Boots and getting to my in laws home my spirits rose. We are having a wonderful visit with his parents. Usually we'd be out hiking and enjoying the beautiful red rocks, but the rain has provided a wonderful excuse to remain indoors catching up on the last season of one of our favorite shows (Dexter), eating and catching up. Julie is spoiling us with fresh, organic and delicious meals and the dough for her homemade pizza is rising in the kitchen. We have both had lessons in the benefits of Energy Therapy and currently they have Boots doing some yoga. Namaste.

I hope the weather gets better so we can get out and about. But, if not, this isn't too bad either!

PS -- Happy Birthday Aliya!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Always Close At Heart

Ah, and so with tears sliding down my cheeks I begin this emotional post... even after a year of knowing what the future held saying goodbye to my precious family, looking into their eyes and having to tear myself away has never been harder. I could not have a more encouraging and supportive family, but that makes it all the more difficult to leap out into the unknown without them. My family, my home has been my ultimate comfort zone. It is so warm, inviting and loving. But, I know in my heart that the only way I will learn about myself and grow past my expectations is to push myself out of my comfort zone, make myself a little uncomfortable at first and take that leap of faith.

Our family is so close, I know the bonds will remain strong despite the distance. I've already moved 3 times with Boots and the change is never easy for me, but it's always worth it in the end. We're about to embark on a great adventure on a tropical island. Life is good. This is going to be great. I love my life with Boots and wouldn't change a thing.

Leaving really set in for me today when Boots emailed me a copy of his orders and my area clearance that we've been waiting on. We have our new PO box address. I'm so relieved to to finally have everything we need, but seeing it on paper made it absolutely, 100% official that we are definitely moving to Japan. For. Real.

Today was spend completely with my family. Mom, Dad and my big sister all took off from work and we spent the morning in Alexandria, had lunch together at a cafe, had a relaxing afternoon with a nice fire in the fireplace, Mom made a delicious dinner and then we curled up on the couch to watch the Olympics (and American Idol during commercials).

Tonight my sister gave me a letter that really opened up the waterworks. I've been trying to hold it together, but just reading a few words of her card get me going again. My sister also gave me something back. Before I got married over 2 years ago I gave my sister a Friendship Heart. There is an English tradition of how a special token is passed back and forth through the years between, in our case, sisters. Tonight she passed it back to me to have for a while, then I'll pass it back to her when I think she needs it. I want to share with you the special poem she put in the card along with her beautiful letter:

"I Carry Your Heart With Me, by EE Cummings

I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart) I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling) I fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)"

I could not possibly be more blessed and fortunate to be apart of this family! My Mom and I frequently say this to each other "We may be apart, but we're always close at heart." It couldn't be more true.

Monday, February 15, 2010


On Friday Boots flew back to check out of his command in TX and so we parted ways for the week. Despite the mountains of snow in Northern VA right now, I made it to VA with few problems. When I arrived I had a surprise waiting for me. Boots had sent me beautiful pink roses! I love the roses, but the card that came along with them just melted my heart.

I am always so happy to be reunited with my family no matter how long or short our time apart. My family and I are extremely close and I grew up in the house they still own (and secretly hope they never ever sell). Being at home is such a comfort. If someone asks me where I would want to be at any given time I frequently answer in the kitchen of this house with my family.

My sister and I are 4 1/2 years apart and the best of friends. It wasn't always this way growing up, but I am so lucky that my sister and I are so close. She lives in Old Town and on Saturday we went to get our nails done, window shop and have dinner at our favorite little French cafe we've been frequenting even before either of us could drive. We would Metro over and spend the day in Old Town together, and so we have plenty of fun memories from over the years. Her wonderful little apartment is walking distance to all of the shops and restaurants in Old Town so we went back to her place to watch her hockey team, and some favorite old movies. We stayed up late talking and had a sleepover like when we were girls.

On Sunday, Valentines Day, my parents threw me a Soubetsukai (Farewell Party) and it meant a lot to have my friends and neighbors together providing their support and well wishes. A lot of my parents friends and neighbors have watched me grow up and feel a lot like family. It was encouraging to hear some of their stories of being a young military couple and how they wish they could do it all over again. Numerous times I received the advice to travel as much as possible and I assured them I would!

Needless to say, there are a lot of memories, history and bonds with people here that will be, and have been, hard to leave behind. While webcams, email and long distance calls don't replace time spent with someone, they sure help. I never would have seen myself as someone who loves change and moving, but I knew that they came with the territory of military life. I have a life here, but it's time for Boots and I to make our own life, memories and bonds with new places and people.

One VERY hard part about leaving the States is this little guy:

My little, adorable Yorkie pup is going to be staying with my parents while we're gone, for multiple reasons. I wish we could take him, but for his sake it is much better for him. He is 11 and spent 9 years of his life in my parents house, so he's right at home. He is with people who love him just as much as I do and he'll have the best care. He's having health problems and does not do well at all with stress and change. I'll miss him terribly, but I'll see him on webcam.