Spring Vacation

Living here in cold Minnesota, I love planning a Spring vacation…a warm getaway before our beautiful Minnesota summer weather sets in.  I start planning right after the holidays are over.  It has to be somewhere warm with sand and sun.  As a family, we love to go to Hawaii –  Maui is our favorite island.  We have been visiting Maui since 1998 and our sons just love it.  There are so many cool things to do and see on the island.

There are some things that you should do at least once when you visit the state of Hawaii.  Among these, would be a Luau.  These are typically large gatherings with lots of tourists but it can be a fun experience.  The best part of the Luau for me is not the food, but rather the culture and entertainment value that the Luau shows provide. I really like the fire dancers 🙂

A whale watch cruise is something we try to do at least once while we are visiting!  I think it is our favorite excursion.  Because we like to travel during the time that the whales migrate, there is always plenty of activity. We have always been lucky enough to see whales – but even if you weren’t, the view of the island from the water is spectacular!

I love a beautiful sunrise and sunset.  Among the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen is the view from Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano 10,000 feet above sea level.  You will need to leave your hotel at about 3:30 in the morning (wear a warm jacket) to make the drive to the top…fingers crossed it is a clear morning. The experience is spiritual and it is clear to see why the name Haleakala means “house of the sun.”

 

One of our favorite day trips is driving the road to Hana.  This is a full day trip and you will want to be prepared.  Have a full tank of gas and pack a lunch, or stop in Pa’ia town at the sandwich shop for a box lunch.  This beautiful drive is very steep and winding with narrow roads and passes and over 59 bridges….46 of which are only one lane wide.  The views are breathtaking! If there has been rain, the waterfalls are flowing and you get the sense you are in a tropical rainforest.

These are just a few of the things we like to do when we visit Maui.  There are so many others…. the beach, snorkeling in Molokini Crater, dinner at Mama’s Fish House (don’t miss it) and hanging out in Lahaina town.  And of course, make sure you watch the sunset….at least once.

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Pura Vida

Pura Vida is the law of the land in Costa Rica.  It literally means “Pure Life,” but to Costa Ricans it means much more. It means that no matter what your current situation is in life, for someone else, it can always be less fortunate than your own, so you need to consider that maybe – just maybe – your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together. Life is short, so start living it “Pura Vida style.”

Our goal for our family vacation to Costa Rica was “Pura Vida.” We were going to go and be all in. Our plan was to experience all that Costa Rica had to offer, the biodiversity, the waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes and rainforests!

It all started when my husband and I were trying to think of Christmas presents for our 26 and 22 year old boys.  They don’t need more “stuff” is what we said, they both are paying back student loans, meaning they are working, going to school and really grinding it out (at least as best as a millennial can do).  So we decided, while we can, to take them with us on a memory making vacation. Costa Rica!

We don’t necessarily like doing the same things. Me?  Give me a beach and a spa and I am a happy camper.  Dad?  He wants a golf course and good Internet to keep working, even on vacation.  Connor?  He wants new experiences and a sports bar.  Alec?  He loves a challenge and meeting new people.  So how to combine all 4 of us and have a great time?  Costa Rica seemed perfect with its rugged rainforests, Pacific beaches and TONS of adventures for everyone!

We zip lined the first day (even though I am not fond of heights) and had a blast! Sailing through the tree tops was exhilarating and we had our guides to ourselves, so on a break, we had the bonus of getting to know these 20-something year old Costa Ricans and found out that the education system in Costa Rica is great!  Many go on to college and the government helps to make that happen!  The kids had a great time talking nightlife with the guides.  Pura Vida!

The second day we beached it, foot race competition between Dad and the boys resulted in the video below…hilarious!  But the unplanned sunset together with some champagne and Neil Young playing in the background provided the perfect night for mama to just “BE” with her boys. Pura Vida!

Third day we drove through 4 hours of small towns, stumbled on a festival and ended up at the Arenal volcano and the hot springs.  Wow!  Sloths, snakes, monkeys and birds provided incredible beauty. And with a total of 8+ hours together trapped in a van with just our family, we had lots of family time to share past travel stories, love it when the boys are captive and they HAVE to talk!  Pura Vida!

Day 4 was crazy cool with white water rafting in the rain forest.  Costa Rica is one of only 2 places in the world where you can white water raft in a rainforest.  We each got dumped out of the boat and we all took a much-needed break by swimming in a waterfall in the middle of nowhere!!!  This was my favorite day! Pura Vida!

 

I got to spend a lot of time together with my boys and that makes mama happy.  I always say I got 3 wishes – John, Connor & Alec.  My boys.  Pura Vida!

Pura Vida may be my 2017 life motto!  What’s yours?

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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