The Beginning of My Island Life

It’s hard to start this post because since landing on St. Thomas last Friday, it’s been completely overwhelming. People always say “it’s island time” and until you are immersed into the culture and lifestyle that doesn’t mean anything. “Island Time” has a whole new meaning to me, and I’ve only been here for a week. I’m positive that is going to change again and again as I continue to become immersed in the daily living of St. Thomas.

For those who don’t know, St. Thomas is 1 of 4 islands which form the U.S. Virgin Islands (along with St. Croix, St. John, and Water Island), an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1917. The island is home to ~51,000 residents over the ~31 square miles of land (that’s 23 miles from end to end), which sounds small but these roads are windy, steep and rough. So in reality it can take you over 2 hours to get from one side of the island to another. AND Traffic, will be, well horrible, from what I was told. We are a major port on many Caribbean cruise lines and I was told there could be as many as 5 ships in the harbor. Read more

Family Travel: Rocky Point, Mexico


I honestly can’t believe I have posted on my blog 100 times in the last few years. I’ve been on so many mapless adventures and have experienced quite a few highs and lows over the last few years but I wouldn’t change any of it, so let’s get started on this next adventure…

I know I’ve said this before, but living away from my family can be hard a lot of the times. One thing is for sure that I have an amazing family who is very willing to travel with me south of the border to our condo in Puerto Penasco, Mexico all because I wanted to go. Living in Seattle for the last three years, means I haven’t been to our condo in 3 years.

I knew that since I was planning a week long vacation to AZ for the end of October, it was a good time to travel to our condo. You can call it a little “international refreshment” to my heart and soul. I absolutely love traveling and don’t get to do the amount of “true” traveling that I’d wish to be able to do, so when this type of adventure presents and works out with my family, I really jump on it.

The actual journey to the condo was filled with many firsts for me as I drove down with my sister and her 5 and 2 year old, and well if you’ve traveled with children before you might not have sympathy for me.

For starters, my flight was delayed 3 hours so instead of hitting the road at 4:30PM we got started at 7:30 PM. My sister tried to keep the boys awake for most of the day as to allow them to sleep on the car and it may have back fired. My 5 year old nephew complained of a headache the ENTIRE drive and NOTHING was helping him. My 2 year old nephew got car sick 40 minutes aware from the condo resulting in projectile vomit, which of course, I had to clean because my sister was driving. THEN, my 5 year old nephew had to pee which it being late, middle of nowhere Mexico and only 3o minutes away meant we were stopping, so I proceeded to hold an empty cup to allow him to pee.

You can imagine that by the time we arrived in Mexico and unloaded, I ABSOLUTELY cracked open a Pacifico and couldn’t help by smile and laugh at the experiences I just had.

I woke up the next morning to an adorable 5 year old talking to his grandma, my mother, and then getting cuddles that lasted maybe 30 seconds. But I’ll take it as a morning wake up. It didn’t take long for the crew (included my mother, my father, my sister, and 2 nephews) to eat delicious chirzo breakfast burritos my dad made and then get ready for a day of pooling and beaching or laying out, sleeping, and relaxing for me.

The one thing I should tell you about my 5 year old nephew is that he can swim in virtually ANY water temperature and though October in Mexico may have been 85-90 degrees, the pool water WAS NOT. The ocean was however bearable and actually quite warm.

We proceeded to spend the majority of the afternoon in the water before heading back up to get ready for a trip in to downtown for some shrimp ceviche and wandering. I love shrimp ceviche and no place has better shrimp ceviche then Rocky Point. We didn’t spend too much time in downtown because “we” wanted to Tide Pool explore and enjoy the sunset on the beach.

Rocky Point has one of the largest tides I have every seen which makes it perfect conditions for sunset tide pool exploring. That’s exactly what we did for a good 2 hours. I think I spent more time taking pictures of my family then actual exploring, but it wouldn’t be me otherwise.

My dad left us Monday morning, and our next two days included nothing but being lazy by the pool relaxing, drinking margaritas, watching the boys swim and play, and venturing over to the other pool area which has a waterslide, by day; and by night: eating dinner and watching movies (which I can NOW say I have watched Jurassic World about 6 times, though truly only once). We didn’t leave our condo area either day and honestly I didn’t mind. These two days of nothing but relaxation were ideal and much needed.

Traveling South of the Border has been a part of my life for 20 years, as evidenced of a family picture located in our condo dated October 1995 and will continue to be apart of my life for hopefully another 20 years. Hard to imagine my first trip was so long ago at the age of 9 and I still love going down there. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have friends of mine join me next year on another adventure south of the border.

Daddy-Daughter Adventure #3

If you would have asked me that when I agreed to go on the back of my dad’s Harley Davidson cycle, we’d continue that tradition, I probably would have laughed. I never thought that we’d be blessed with opportunity after opportunity to spend quality time together. This adventure however kept me at home as my dad decided that since mom was in Nashville, TN, he’d venture to the PNW to visit me! It was a quick weekend but it was packed full of fun and adventure.

It started with a jog around my favorite location, Green Lake, which is also where I spend majority of my time with my running group, Seattle Green Lake Running Group. We didn’t go very far because as a spontaneous purchase, my dad and I decided to run the Rock-n-Roll Seattle Half Marathon. We weren’t alone in our short jaunt. My roommate had one of his good friends from college in for the RnR Seattle, though he was running to win it, and he decided to come join us. There was a “HUGE” pace differences: my dad and I were closing in at 10:30 minute miles; he was at like 5:10 minute miles (or some crazy fast pace). You can imagine our faces when moments after we arrive he took off like a deer. My dad and I just started laughing because in less than 10 steps we couldn’t even see him. After our run, we grabbed some breakfast and coffee before heading home to get ready.

I knew Friday was going to be our one main day to spend in and around downtown but it was also our only chance to pick up our race packets. So that’s exactly what we did. I don’t drive into downtown because, well, driving a manual into the hilly center of Seattle is not a fun or easy combination. My dad didn’t mind taking the metro system and walking a little. We walked near the stadiums, took a few selfies with my new selfie stick (laughing while doing so), and wandered around the Expo enjoying the loves of runners.

After the expo, we headed through Pioneer Square, which was a first for him, and enjoyed a “Pre-Race” beverage at the Oldest Saloon, “The Central”. From there, it was to Pike’s Market Place for another selfie, then up towards Capitol Hill to the new Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, a first for the both of us.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room opened in January 2015, located 9 blocks from the original Starbucks, and is a place for people to come and enjoy/taste/learn about unique blends of coffee.  Starbuck Reserve are rare and exotic micro live coffees that are unique to this location. I really had no idea what to expect, but I did learn that this roastery is responsible for roasting all of the Reserve label beans sold in all Starbucks. My dad and I did get to try two of the reserve labels, which in his words “the most expensive cup of coffee” and yes, he would be correct. This isn’t for the cheap at heart person, but it does offer a unique experience. We headed home for an early night after our tasting, but it wasn’t over yet.

A few days prior to my dad arriving, I received a WhatsApp message from my high school friend Blaine, who was going to be in town this same weekend and on a spur of a moment, decided he wanted to run the RnR Seattle Half Marathon too. So, after he landed at SeaTac, he taxied to my place to join myself, my dad, my roommate, and my roommate’s friend. Talk about a house full of runners.

We were able to catch some ZZZ’s before waking up and beginning our race day prep. This half marathon took me on a different training plan, which included adjusting my nutritional aspect to add a few supplements and this morning was nothing different. Luckily, my dad is the one helping me with my supplement/nutritional changes and so our mornings are fairly similar.

We made it to the meet up location for the SGLRG RnR crew for our typical race day photo before heading to the start line. I was pretty excited as this would be Blaine’s first official half marathon and my dad’s first big adventure through Seattle. My dad and I had a plan to run the first 5 miles at 9:30 pace then change to a 3 min. run/1 min. walk. However, at mile 5, I was feeling great and my dad told me to rock it. Which I did. I PR’d by 6 minutes finishing at 2hr 13minutes, a 10:13 minute mile pace. I was so extremely happy with this finish time and proud of my dad who didn’t finish to far behind me (2hr 27 minutes). Blaine finished at 1:54, my roommate came in at a 1:35, and his friend Roosevelt rocked it with a second place finish at 1:09. Do you know what it feels like to be standing at the start line knowing someone who is half way done before you even start? Let’s just say it provided some early morning laughter for my dad and I.

After the race and after-race party, we headed home to shower and re-get ready for another afternoon on the town before the Sounders game. I mean my dad couldn’t come to Seattle without experience a Sounders game. Blaine and Roosevelt joined us for a Ballard experience (one of my personal favorite). We enjoyed some good brews, good food and good company. Blaine parted ways with us as we head back to Pioneer Square for the ECS March to the Match experience.

One of my favorite parts of traveling with my dad is watching his face during new experiences. This was one of them. Between him and Roosevelt’s facial expressions, I was quite entertained. I think the biggest shock for my dad was the amount of people and the fact that we STOOD the ENTIRE game. We won 3-0 and the night still wasn’t over. It was time for dinner and we headed to another neighborhood close to home for some pizza and ice cream.

We crashed that night and woke the next morning a little stiff but ready for another adventure. We headed north to Mt. Vernon, joined by Roosevelt, where we were blessed with the chance to meet up with our Mexico/Canadian friends and spent the morning catching up. Instead of heading directly back to Seattle, we took a road trip detour to Lake Stevens. Reason is because this is the place of the Lake Stevens Half Ironman hosted in August of each year. I’m trying to convince my dad and his tri-group to race it. Another new place checked off for my dad and I together.

The night was less busy. We spent it relaxing, BBQ’ing, and enjoying each other’s company. It was a semi early night for both my dad and I, as he was jetting back home dark and early (like 3AM). I was absolutely blessed to be able to spend this weekend with not only my dad for our #3 adventure, but with my friend Blaine, and new friend Roosevelt. These are the moments in my life I cherish and love. AND my dad is already registered for next year’s RnR half marathon. Maybe I can convince my brother, sister, and mom to join in :-).

Stay tuned for my next mapless adventures.

Family Travel: Grandma Turns 90

In my lifetime, I have had the honor to meet my great-great grand-mother (100 and something) and my great grandmother (97) on my mother’s side and both lived very long lives. However, this celebration was something I was afraid I’d never see.

Last November (2012) my grandmother on my dad’s side had a medical crisis that lead her hospitalized, intubated and barely aline. My dad went to visit her and told me that he really didn’t think she’d survive and from my medical knowledge I really didn’t know either. She gave us quite the scare that month and my strong and wonderful grandmother gained back her breathing, gained back her strength, and was able to return back to her home. I was overjoyed hearing the news that months of going through rehabilitation and living away from home, she’d return.

Eleven months later, my grandmother sat in front of me talking and smiling as I wished her a very Happy 90th Birthday. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel back to Iowa (with a Chicago pit-stop) and spend time with my dad’s side of the family on this special of occasion.

During my 4 days in my dad’s home(region), I spent time at my grandmother’s assisted living facility, hung out with dad’s old friends, visited my cousin’s new farm house along with one aunt’s farm house filled with cows, billy goats and CATS, and partied at my other aunt’s farm with the entire (mostly) Lang family. During our birthday party, I spent time talking with my cousins (who are all older- some with kids a few years younger than me), aunts, and uncles, taking pictures of my grandmother meeting her newest great-grandchild (a couple months old), and even taking a ride in my uncle’s new toy- a classic car (don’t ask me what kind). I even shot a gun for the first time, well 3 different types of guns actually. It was quite fun and quite country as we were shooting a shotgun, in a corn field, drinking busch light. Talk about a fun birthday party!

It was quite the special trip returning to Iowa to honor my grandmother in her amazing life of 90 years and spending precious time with the Lang family bunch. Hopefully, my time away isn’t so long and I’ll be able to visit my grandmother again.

Family Travel: Parents Visit Washington

I don’t even know where to begin this post. I haven’t seen my parents in six months, which is the longest we’ve EVER gone without seeing each other and this past weekend they came to visit the PNW. Oh yeah, and me! My mom came shortly after I moved, however her trip wasn’t really a “vacation”. This time was different. My goal for their PNW weekend vacation was to have them see why I LOVE the PNW and for them to love it too.  I thought long and hard about what to show them during their short 4 day weekend (not counting their 3 day adventure in Victoria, BC, Canada to visit a family friend) here in Washington. The results…well keep reading to find out.

Seattle, as some of you know, is not the “cheapest” location to stay so we decided to head east of Lake Washington where we stayed at a beautiful Marriott property in Bellevue, WA. What I found interesting is that the hotels here provide guests with van services that will take you anywhere within three miles of the hotel. Of course we utilized this service on our first night and found ourselves wandering through Downtown Bellevue Park before hitting up Happy Hour at various locations recommended by a friend and locals. Slightly anti-climatic but nothing less than a perfect and relaxing first night with the parents.

Seattle was the next stop in the adventure where we partook in a food tour, rode the Seattle Ferris Wheel, headed up the Space Needle and ended the night with a beverage overlooking Pike Place Market. I heard through the grapevine that a food tour is a MUST when in Seattle and Seattle Bites Food Tour was ranked #1 on multiple sites. Those sites didn’t lie. This tour took us through the history of the market; how it got started, how it was almost destroyed, and how it continues to thrive today. It gave us various tastes of the market; German brats, Indian chicken tikka masala, French crepes, locally grown fruits, and America’s Best Clam Chowder with Seattle’s Best Coffee and a local winery for refreshments. Ending with a unique outlook on the famous Pike Place Market with an additional stop at the Gum Wall, the second most unsanitary location in the world (second to the Blarney Stone). We continued to stroll Pike Place Market following the tour with a Starbucks in hand, where my mom and I decided it was entertaining watching my dad stare, with his mouth open, at everything going on in the market (if you know my dad you’ll understand why this was funny). Oh yeah, did I mention that one of my mom’s co-workers from Phoenix was on this tour with her husband and they had no idea? Small world!

The Seattle Ferris Wheel was next on our agenda. This attraction opened in June and provides the riders us with a beautiful view of downtown Seattle with the Space Needle peaking through the sky-rise buildings. Plus I learned that my dad squirms with heights, something I never knew before. We continued our tour of Seattle with the Space Needle. We took the 41 second ride up 520 feet to the observation deck where we relaxed and enjoy another fabulous view of the city of Seattle, Mt. Rainier, and the Puget Sound. By the time we ventured down the Space Needle, our stomachs began to growl so what better place to enjoy a sunset Happy Hour than at the patio of Hard Rock Cafe!

Saturday wasn’t as full packed as Friday but still adventure driving none the less. Following my parents morning 10 mile run (I slept), we headed out to Cougar Mountain for a short hike through Washington’s Wilderness! Hiking in Washington is a huge part of my life and spending time with my parents in the wilderness hiking was one thing I wasn’t going to pass up! Wine Country in Woodinville, WA was next on our schedule of events. We enjoyed a tour and tasting at Chateau Ste Michelle Winery,  lunch at Redhook Brewery, ending our day with a tasting at Columbia Winery. Well sort of ending…we actually ended our day at Costco for a little shopping therapy!

Off to Port Angeles, WA via Aberdeen and Ruby Beach. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to show my dad my home this trip, so when the opportunity presented to travel the extra few hours, I didn’t hesitate! I loved driving him around Aberdeen, showing him where I work, place I go, and even introducing him and my mom to my friends! Continuing on our WA adventure, we headed north on the 101 with stops at the Quinault Rain Forest, World’s Largest Sitka Spruce, Largest Red Cedar, and Ruby Beach. Port Angeles isn’t known for much other than being a gateway to Canada and the San Juan Islands, however there is one thing special about Port A. It is 17 miles north from Hurricane Ridge, a location that provides a spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains on one side and the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canada on the other. When we woke up Monday morning, we didn’t know if we would make it up to the ridge as we were on a strict time restraint. Luckily, we had plenty of time to enjoy the clear air and views the ridge had to offer before I had to send my parents north to Victoria, BC, Canada. Saying goodbye sucks but It won’t be too long before I head home to AZ to support my dad as he competes in the Ironman Triathlon!

So, do you think I showed my parents enough of Washington for them to fall in love? Click for Pictures.