I began golfing a little more than a year ago, when we settled into our new summer place on a golf course. I had dabbled in a golf a long time ago, but hadn’t picked up a club in twenty years. And so it has been like starting over. Our summers in Washington have given me a great opportunity to learn while golfing around the sound. And during the year we were stuck in the USA it was a great time to take up the sport.
Learning to Golf
I’ve played A LOT since I decided to learn the game and I have also taken lessons and had a coach. Getting some coaching pointers and playing consistently (about once a week) has helped me learn and improve my game. I still have a long ways to go but I enjoy the game a great deal and especially enjoy having another activity to spend time with my husband.
It might be surprising to some, but I feel one of the best ways to improve is to play at as many different courses as possible. I know many golfers like to play their “home” course only, but I find by moving around to new courses I don’t fall into a comfortable pattern and am therefore always challenged and learning new things.
Golfing Around the Sound
Given that strategy we set out this summer to explore as many courses in the Pacific Northwest as we could. For Christmas my husband gave me a Golfing Around the Sound golf package, 11 courses included for $220. We created three golf “weekends” (we did them mid-week) and covered courses in Skagit and Snohomish County; Mason, Kitsap; Clallam and Jefferson County too.
Some courses are certainly better than others, but all the courses we played offered wonderful opportunities to learn and enjoy this crazy game. If you want to give this a try for yourself, here is our suggestions for three golf getaways in the Pacific Northwest. I imagine next summer we will try this again and expand to more courses including to the south and east.
SKAGIT & SNOHOMISH
Using the lovely little town of La Conner (Skagit Valley) as our home base, we booked a fabulous room on the water at the La Conner Channel Lodge for two nights. This unique boutique style hotel sits right on the La Conner Channel and offers spectacular sunsets. While in La Conner we visited the Swinomish Indian Reservation, did a little boutique shopping and visited the local fresh markets where we purchased blueberries, raspberries and peaches to take home.
We played three courses in the Skagit/ Snohomish region. Each course was easy to get a tee time for our dates of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday;
GLENEAGLE GOLF COURSE – This course in Burlington was nice, but some of the fairways are pretty tight and there are many houses, so it’s a bit stressful for an erratic golfer like me. Also, as first timers we wished for better signage between tees. Gleneagle has a restaurant on site.
AVALON LINKS – I liked this course in Burlington; it was pretty while still being relatively easy for a beginner. Strangely this course has 27 holes…not sure why that is, but we played 18 and had a very enjoyable game. A small cafe is available on site.
THE GOLF CLUB AT ECHO FALLS – This is a beautiful course in Snohomish, and of the three the most challenging. We had a really fun game here. I had a cart but my husband was walking and he did wish the tees were not so far apart….sometimes a bit difficult to find. The clubhouse and restaurant and the entire grounds here are very beautiful.
We recommend dining in La Conner at Nell Thorn for a delicious dinner made fresh with local ingredients. And for something a little less formal, try La Conner Brewing for excellent beer, burgers, tacos and salads.
MASON & KITSAP
Since we live in Kitsap County and near the border with Mason, we did not stay in a hotel while exploring these five courses listed below (three in our Around the Sound package and two not). But we can recommend from experience choosing to stay at the beautiful Alderbrook Resort & Spa on Hood Canal or the Silverdale Beach Hotel on the waterfront in Silverdale.
ALDERBROOK GOLF CLUB – Our friend John invited us to enjoy nine holes with him at his home course of Alderbrook Golf Club in Union. This course is not part of the Around the Sound package. It was our first time playing here and I enjoyed it very much. This course has both homes and a lot of trees along the fairways, but it was just the right amount of challenge for me (and I only lost a couple of balls!).
GOLD MOUNTAIN GOLF COURSE – One of three courses within fifteen minutes of my house, Gold Mountain is an outstanding municipal course in Bremerton. I really love playing here, although I have only played the Cascade course. The Olympic course is more challenging…maybe next year. Anyway this is a beautiful rolling course with no houses…for me I need a cart as it has a lot of hills.
TROPHY LAKE GOLF & CASTING – Not on the Around the Sound package, Trophy Lake in Port Orchard is one of my favorite courses. It’s just right for my skill level and I enjoy the grounds and the fact there aren’t any houses. It’s very close to where I live so that’s a bonus too.
MCCORMICK WOODS GOLF CLUB – Well, you can’t get much closer for me, as I live on the 6th hole at McCormick Woods. I never imagined living on a golf course but we have quickly fallen in love with this beautiful community that surrounds this beautiful course. This public course in Port Orchard also has memberships as well as an excellent restaurant. It’s challenging though, with lots of houses and lots of underbrush and water too. It’s here I have taken my lessons and had my coaching with course Pro Kyle Larson.
WHITE HORSE GOLF CLUB – One of the more challenging courses I’ve played this summer, White Horse is in Kingston and is tough but a great learning course. I was in the sand A LOT. It’s a beautiful course with only a few houses. A very nice club house and restaurant too. Very close to the Kingston Ferry.
Our getaway included playing at these three fun courses (all included in our Around the Sound package).
THE CEDARS AT DUNGENESS – I enjoyed this course a lot, even though my score didn’t reflect that! It’s a well maintained course with some beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains right in the heart of beautiful Sequim. We met friends for breakfast before we teed off and the restaurant Stymies was a great choice.
SUNLAND GOLF COURSE – I had fun at this course, even though my cart was an antique. The course itself was well-maintained and fun. The fairways are really tight though, with houses and trees, but I managed to stay out of people’s yards (for the most part). It’s a great option in Sequim.
PORT LUDLOW GOLF CLUB I struggled at this VERY hilly course…and lost a lot of balls too. When we arrived I asked the guy in the Pro Shop if the course was hilly, as I was trying to decide if I would walk or get a cart. He said there were a “couple of hills”. So I decided to walk. By the end of 18 I was ready to drop. There are way more than “couple of hills”. I recommend a cart. This course has a lot of water and also houses to avoid. We enjoyed our visit despite it all and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day we had on the greens.
GOLFING AROUND THE SOUND
These are a few of our finds this summer as we spent time golfing around the sound. There are many more wonderful options to golf in the Puget Sound region…we hope to find those when we return from our winter travels next spring.
Meanwhile, it’s time to clean the clubs and get them ready for two months in Maui, where we love to golf. Stay tuned for our Maui adventures starting in September (we hope…unless the PanDamit shuts everything down again).
MAUI is open for business and needs your support. Although Lahaina has years and years of recovery, the rest of Maui welcomes you. PLEASE consider supporting the aid efforts for the residents of Maui. We suggest the following;
A re-share from October 2020 –Please check current status of individual suggestions as the situation is fluid.
Maui is hands down my favorite of all the Hawaiian Islands. We have now been on Maui for seven weeks and still have two more weeks to go! Everything about it I love. And despite the fact there isn’t anything negative I can say about this beautiful place, I do have some favorites. So today I thought I would share with you my Maui top five things to do – best of the best.
Top Five Beaches
Keawakapu – our most frequented beach in South Kihei offers a wide sandy beach, warm clear water and gentle waves
Makena Beaches – Makena also in the south, is dotted with public access to dozens of beautiful and often secluded beach. Secret Beach is worth finding. MaKena Beach State Park is a wonderful huge expanse of a beach and rarely busy.
Black Beach Hana – for the sheer beauty of it, Black Beach on the road to Hana is worth a visit
Baldwin Beach – on the north shore Baldwin Beach is great for body surfing
Napili Bay Beach – I have not swam at this beach but it is so beautiful and has easy access at the north end of the island
Top Five Snorkeling
Black Rock Kaanapali – the beach in front of the Kaanapali Sheraton known as Black Rock is one of my favorite places to snorkel. Clear and full of fish and turtles.
Turtle Rock – On a guided snorkel trip a few years ago we had the most amazing time at Turtle Rock – hundreds of turtles here.
Molokini – Though sometimes crowded, a snorkel tour to Molokini is a must at least once in your life to see the abundant marine life here.
Makena Beaches – there are several public access beaches on this long stretch of south Maui with some of the best and easily accessed snorkeling on the island.
Keawakapu – my favorite beach, and the one closest to where we usually stay, has an easy access into the water with snorkel options at the far north of the beach around a large lava reef. Wonderful sealife, turtles and fish.
Top Five Hikes
Waihee Ridge – mid island, five mile roundtrip with incline to spectacular views but weather can be unpredictable.
Kapalua Coastal Trail – hugging the coast from Kapalua to Napili this rugged and beautiful hike has views of Molokai, Lanai and the ocean. Windy.
Halemau’u Haleakala – hike down into the crater starting at 8000 foot level where you will find easy parking. The trail is a switch back and easy for most fit hikers. Temperatures can be very cold at times.
Sliding Sands Haleakala – this is a work out let me tell you, but if you are fit it’s spectacular. Bring lots of water, be prepared for wind and cold or heat and sun you never know. A great place to see the rare and beautiful Silver Sword plant.
Hoapili, La Perouse – past Makena where the road ends you will find parking and the trailhead of the Hoapili, the historic Kings Road. The rough trail takes you over a 300 year old lava field to the far south end of the island. Bring lots of water, it is a hot and dry trail.
So if you are thinking about visiting Maui for the first time, or are planning to return for another visit, check out some of my top fives – you can’t go wrong with any of them.
Be a Kind & Generous Visitor
And remember, Maui took a big hit during the pandemic and is now dealing with an unprecedented disaster. The local people have lost lives, family, homes, jobs, income and businesses closed permanently, on this island that depends on tourism. If you can afford to visit Maui, you can afford to make a donation while you are there. Please be generous.
Help breathe life back into the local economy by shopping and dining at locally owned stores, supporting locally run activities, taking time to talk to and understand the local people and their culture, and donate to a local non-profit agency that is helping the local people.
There are four things we commit to doing weekly during our summers in the Pacific Northwest; family, friends, golf and hike. We structure each week with a hike on Friday – rain or shine – and visit some of our old favorites and always make time for something new. A couple of weeks ago we took the beautiful drive north and east to discover something new; Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass, North Cascades.
We had read about this being a good place to bird watch, and we really enjoy viewing beautiful birds of the Pacific Northwest. We did see five birds that were new to us, but it didn’t end up being about bird watching for us in the way I thought it would. Here are the birds we saw;
All of the bird images above are from our bird identifier app called Merlin. It’s a perfect app for amateur bird watchers and I highly recommend it. And guess what? It’s free!
The Views Heather Pass/Maple Pass
The highlight of this hike, if you do the full loop of Heather Pass/Maple Pass, are the unforgettable 360 degree views on a clear day. The hike begins in a beautiful forested area, quickly rising up to Alpine scrub and meadows above the tree line. It’s here where you begin to appreciate the North Cascades for its remoteness and fewer visitors. Turquoise blue alpine lakes, bright mountain wildflowers, distant views of Mount Baker and the craggy rocks jutting into the sky. Our hike loop was seven miles with about 2000 foot elevation gain, with the high point near 7000 feet in elevation (the trail had just become snow-free in early July). But don’t fear! There are shorter hikes here with much less elevation gain.
An easy and beautiful walk to Lake Ann is about 3 miles round trip with minimal elevation. Meander through the woods and end up lakeside at the glacial blue lake. Definitely doable for most people.
We highly recommend no matter which trail, water, sunscreen, hat and BUG SPRAY.
We arrived on a weekday at about 9:30am and the parking lot was almost full on a beautiful July day. But additional parking is available on Hwy 20 and across the street. This area is also an access point for the Pacific Crest Trail...which runs from Mexico to Canada (the movie “Wild” takes place on this trail).
The Pacific Northwest is home to three of this nation’s 424 National Parks. How lucky are we to have these amazing places in our backyard. Olympic National Park is the most visited, Mount Rainier second, and North Cascades places third. I highly recommend a visit to the Maple Pass area of North Cascades National Park. It’s worth the effort.
Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass North Cascades
Thanks for reading my post Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Maple Pass, North Cascades. I encourage you to get out and enjoy all the gems of the Washington and the Pacific Northwest. See last week’s post Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Point Defiance Rose Garden. And be sure to check back next week for another hidden gem.
Though this blog is primarily about tourism, travel and exploration – I have never kept it a secret my belief that women in their Fabulous Fifties and surrounding generations are still kept from living to their potential. A “double-standard” if you will has, through the generations, created an unobtainable female convention with expectations to be perfect as a mother, wife, career-women and friend.
This conjecture is now being questioned as women look to be happier and more fulfilled in all aspects of their lives, including in their own bodies. One local hidden gem in Olympia is trying to help women understand the stages of life, explore what it means to be female and learn to enjoy pleasure without objectification. Let’s talk about it and this Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Linger Boutique.
Shauna Stewart , founder and owner of Linger Boutique in Olympia Washington says it so eloquently on her website that I am direct quoting here. What is Linger? Why is Linger a place for women, by women? She says;
On a Mission
We are on a mission to slow it down. We believe in taking time for what matters most: self love, meaningful relationships, simple pleasures, and deep intimacy.
With a Vision
We are cultivating a more connected world by making it more comfortable to access intimacy and sexual wellness offerings. Defined by comfort and beauty, we imagine a world where more people feel free to live fuller expressions of themselves by taking time for rest, connection and pleasure.
My key take-away from my afternoon with Shauna was the emphasis on rest. Women often don’t. Not only don’t they rest, they do not put their health, desires and self-care first. No shit, Sherlock – life is complicated. Have the kids done their homework? Where is that report I need to look at for tomorrow’s meeting? Did the laundry get put in the dryer? What do you mean you’re golfing on Saturday…who’s gonna mow the lawn?
As we manage (or not) our families and careers, personal wellness gets put on the back burner…and so does rest. We can’t be our best without rest. If we take care to understand what our bodies are saying to us we can thrive better in the chaos, be more than just “givers”, be healthier and kinder.
At Linger, Shauna wants to destigmatize the things that make us feel most alive – rest and pleasure. But without the taboo that comes with talking about sexuality. Workshops, products and styles at Linger are designed to create a holistic approach that embraces being female. This includes a safe place to learn, ask questions, prioritize and embrace the slow living movement. Let’s talk about all the stuff we never learned from our mothers, sex ed class, our doctor or our own experience. Let’s talk about our body…its the only one you got.
Yep – it’s innovative. And essential. Linger is a unique and beautiful space for the body and soul. Let’s slow it down, and appreciate our one and only body – no matter what generation you are occupying. Simple pleasure….that’s the Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Linger Boutique.
I absolutely love writing this blog post each year, even though it takes me weeks to put it together. It is fun for me to reminisce about another amazing travel year! I hope it’s fun for you to read and enjoy the awards we bestow on our favorites and the best of the best from our year of travel; the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
I’m surprised that I am already talking about the “sixth annual” travel awards 2022! We are now well into our seventh year of travel as part of The Grand Adventure and still no end in sight. What a remarkable ride it has been. As I write this post, I’m in the country of Honduras – our 123rd country.
Malta was such a pleasant surprise. Beautiful, ancient and surprisingly inexpensive. We had planned to visit Malta in 2020…so that didn’t happen of course. We were very happy to get it back on our itinerary. Malta has a very interesting and ancient history. Valletta where we stayed was a fascinating walled city and we just loved everything about it. We highly recommend our favorite country of 2022 – Malta!
Favorite City – Jerusalem, Israel
Returning to Israel, after fleeing in March of 2020 when the Pandamit was closing everything, was a high priority. So it was a true blessing to get back to this fascinating country. This time we based ourselves in the astonishing city of Jerusalem and I am so glad we did. What an incredible place to visit and we absolutely loved everything about beautiful and fascinating Jerusalem.
Cutest Town – Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, USA
Sturgeon Bay in Door County Wisconsin was such an unexpected surprise as I visited with two good friends for a long weekend. We lucked out by choosing Sturgeon Bay as our home base. Colorful, centrally located and lots of wonderful things to do, July in Sturgeon Bay was a real treat.
Favorite Island – Moorea, French Polynesia
High on our list for a return visit, the small French Polynesian island is a short ferry crossing from the larger and more populated island of Tahiti. We loved our cute Airbnb bungalow in Moorea, and found the island a wonderful and relaxing destination. We really hope to return in 2024.
Most Expensive Country – USA
The United States continues to be an expensive destination for us, compared to so many places we travel around the world. Especially given our long visit to the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii which really ratchets up our daily average. We also had a long visit to New York City which is also very expensive, so all in all, this year the award for most expensive has to go to the United States on our list for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022.
Least Expensive Country – French Polynesia
Our two months on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia was really inexpensive. Granted we were there in the off-season, but if you compare to other tropical places we have visited, French Polynesia can be downright cheap. Our choice of simple accommodations and living frugally really puts Moorea on our wishlist to return for great price, friendly atmosphere, and natural beauty.
Accommodations – 10 Airbnbs, 22 hotels and one desert camp
Favorite Airbnb – A Tie between Moorea and Valletta Malta
We have had several experiences over the years where we have become friends with our Airbnb hosts and our host Maea in Moorea was one of the best hosts we have ever had.
Most Expensive Airbnb – New York City.
Everything in New York City is expensive. Trying to find a place to stay for our two week visit was difficult, with prices in every neighborhood outrageous. Our very teeny Airbnb space in the Upper East Side was more like a closet than an apartment, but we loved the location so it certainly had that going for it. $230 a night.
Best Value Airbnb – Moorea French Polynesia
With a kitchen, two bedrooms, parking, beach access with great snorkeling and the best host, we have nothing to complain about with our Airbnb on the island of Moorea. $75 a night – which was a substantial discount for our extended two-month stay.
This very unique, but slightly expensive, lodging in the teeny French village of Giverny was a wonderful pit stop on our September whirlwind tour. Walking distance to Monet’s Gardens, we loved this rural little farm hotel and the breakfast was fantastic. Highly recommend O’ Plum ‘Art.
Most Expensive Hotel – Hilton Logan Boston
Ridiculously expensive relative to our normal hotels, the Hilton at Logan International Airport in Boston is certainly convenient but expensive. $390 a night.
With the kindest proprietor, the Riad we stayed in for the wedding of our friends in Fez was both inexpensive and very authentic. Beautiful five story old house with central courtyard and roof top area, located in the beautiful old city of Fez. $45 per night with breakfast! When in Fez stay at Dar Abdesalaam.
This was our second time doing an overnight camel trip in the Moroccan Sahara. Without realizing it, we booked a very different camp this time…with more amenities. This time we had electricity!! It was warmer too, being May instead of November so we were very comfortable. A two hour camel ride (gorgeous) a full queen bed, delicious dinner, music around the campfire and a fantastic breakfast. We loved every minute of it.
Best View Accommodations – Kihei Surfside Maui
Not a hotel or an Airbnb, the Kihei Surfside in Maui is one of our most favorite destinations in the world, precisely for the view. There really is nothing like it.
Honorable Mention – Cyprus
Returning to one of our all time favorite Airbnbs was a special treat – the ONLY Airbnb we have every returned to so far. We returned to thank our Cyprus Airbnb hosts and see the sights we were not able to see when we were locked down on the island of Cyprus early during the PanDamit. The view, the neighborhood, the hosts, the pool….we love this place so much. We just might visit again!
Food and Drink
Favorite Country Cuisine – Israel
Mediterranean style food is always my favorite, and the amazing combination of Mediterranean, middle eastern and everything fresh and local makes the foods of Israel the best. Israel has the best hummus in the world and I could (and did) eat it everyday.
We try to do food tours in as many countries as we can, so we definitely have some experience in this category. And our food tour, and our guide in Marrakesh was one of the absolute best we have ever had in any country. At $50 per person we more than ate our weight in every Moroccan delicacy learning so much about food, culture and history. We loved our guide Yahya who made the tour so much fun!
I’m so glad I stumbled on to Food Cook Lab Tahiti, a local, organically focused cooking school. Arne and I took a Tahitian cooking class, which was so phenomenal, I signed up for a second class about fish. Everything I learned was amazing, delicious and so much fun. I loved the flavors of French Polynesia.
Our lovely boutique hotel in Giverny was associated with this restaurant Le Jardin de Plumes and though more expensive than we would usually choose…it was worth every penny. A very unique tasting menu of the chefs choice. The best way to describe it is food as art. Beautiful and delicious.
Best Beer – Bend Oregon
Our third visit to Bend Oregon, we always make time to try new breweries when we visit this lovely town. One of the best beer towns in the Pacific Northwest and that is surely saying something.
Last year we visited a different Maui distillery, Ocean, but this time we discovered Hali’mail’e Distillery in Upcountry where they use local pineapple juice for their products. We enjoyed it and recommend it.
Best Coffee – Morocco
As you know I love my coffee, and real Moroccan coffee is right up there with some of the best in the world…deep, dark, rich Arabic coffee often lightly spiced.
Best Overall Cultural Experience – Shabat dinner Jerusalem
This experience, having Shabat dinner with a local Jerusalem family, is not only our fondest memory of Israel, but one of fondest memories of all our travels. I am not Jewish but always hope to understand all faiths, particularly when in a country. Warmly welcomed by Osnat and Shaul into their beautiful home with a handful of other visitors as well as students from the local university. This lovely, authentic, delicious and religious experience will live forever in our hearts. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Most Authentic Cultural Experience – Kayar Fishing Village Senegal
As we drove several hours to this unknown destination in terrible Senegalese traffic I began to regret this tour. But in hindsight, it was the most amazing thing we did in the country of Senegal. The thousands of locals processing millions of fish on the beach…men, women and children…was colorful and almost like a festival. Our guide Oumar from Senegal Odyssey Tours was excellent and took exceptional care of us during our two days with him.
A couple years ago, one of my favorite books of the year was The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman , a fictional book about the factual siege of Masada in Israel. So visiting Masada was a top priority for me, and it did not disappoint. We visited on a scorching hot day but the Masada National Park is truly remarkable, a UNESCO World Heritage site with astonishing history.
Most Unexpected Ancient Ruins – Cyprus
Cyprus is so full of surprises…so much ancient history that rivals some of the best known historic ruins around the world. We really found the UNESCO Paphos Archeological site beautiful and staggering.
Long on my bucket list, and one of the things we canceled due to the PanDamit, to finally see this astonishing gardens was a dream for me. I loved the raucous and riotous collection of flowers, and of course, the ponds so famously depicted in Monet’s work. This was an easy choice for the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022, Monet’s Giverny and a Wee Bit More.
We could have done this walking tour self-guided, but I am so glad we decided to have a guide. Our guide was in the city on September 11th and had so much amazing insight for us to understand about Ground Zero prior to us going into the 911 Museum.
There are many, many options for group tours that take you across the disputed border from Jerusalem to Palestine. But I thought a private tour, for such an important event would be better. I wanted a local who could really guide us expertly through the eyes of a Palestinian. It was a fascinating day. I highly recommend Michael of Michael Tours.
If you are ever in Morocco, absolutely hire Lhoucine with Marrakesh Camel Tours. Doing this four day tour with our two adult sons was as memorable as it could be, and our tour guide was one of the best we have ever had anywhere in the world.
We were recommended to this tour by another tour guide who we met two years before in Cyprus. It sounded like a fun way to see the interesting capital of Cyprus, Nicosia. And we had a blast. I highly recommend Nicosia Segway Tours.
Best Sunrise – Moorea
Every morning I had my solitary moment with The Mug and the sunrise.
Best Sunset – Maui
Every night we watched the sun go to bed and it was always an amazing performance.
Best Beach – Moorea
Yes the beaches of Hawaii are amazing, but Moorea really was something special. Our favorite beach was a crystal clear white sand park called Ta’ahiamanu Public Beach.
Best Hike – tie; Washington State, Jersey
Hiking is a big part of our life, and we try to hike once a week no matter where we are. Our home state of Washington is one of the best places in the world to hike and we have half a dozen favorites we go back to over and over. Our time on the tiny island of Jersey in the English Channel also offered us one of our most memorable day hikes in September.
We spent several days on the island of Guernsey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Though the weather was wet, we did the low-tide crossing hike from Guernsey to the tiny island of Lihou. This was a very unique experience and worth getting drenched for.
Best Natural Sight – Sahara Desert
Not our first venture into the Sahara, but it still is a mind-boggling sight to see and the overnight camel tour is something everyone should do at least once in their life time.
Again, gratitude to the beauty of my home state and all its national sites, including the National Monument of Mount Saint Helens. We hadn’t visited Mt. St. Helens in many years and thoroughly enjoyed our day hiking in this national monument. Fascinating.
Best Wildlife Viewing – Maui
From whales to sharks, turtles to wild pigs, tropical fish to deer and the omnipresent chickens, Maui is a surprising place for wildlife viewing.
Best Bird-Watching – Antigua
As we travel we have become amateur birdwatchers and really enjoy it. We were very surprised by the variety of beautiful birds we found on the island of Antigua.
Best City Park – Central Park NYC
We plan to return to NYC next spring, and staying near Central Park is a high priority. New Yorkers cherish this park and it really is the heart of the city. I love it too for morning runs, afternoon strolls, people (and dog) watching, live entertainment and bird watching just to name a few reasons.
Best Snorkeling – Moorea
We LOVED our little bungalow on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia for many reasons…including access to snorkeling. Stepping right outside our door we could swim out about 60 yards to a remarkable reef with some of the most astonishing coral I have seen anywhere in the world.
Best Golf – Maui
Our home course of Maui Nui in Kihei is where we golf every time we visit this island and I had my best score ever this year!
Best Place to Run – Maui
I trained for and ran a half marathon (again) while on the island of Maui. Sidewalks, street lights, safe and beautiful, Kihei is my favorite place in the world to be a runner.
Hottest Day – Palestine
Our day trip from Jerusalem to Palestine was one of the hottest days of our year with temperatures well over 100F. The desert was still and treeless and we swooned.
Coldest Day – Maine and Washington
Just days before departing for two months in tropical French Polynesia we had a giant snowstorm at our home in Washington State. And when we arrived in Maine in September for a college reunion/camping trip, Hurricane Fiona off the coast pounded Maine with rain, wind and very chilly temperatures. My body responded with one of the worst colds I’d had in years – made a pilgrimage to Walmart to get some warm clothes!
Wettest Day – Moorea
Arriving in Moorea mid January to monsoon conditions our first week created a lake in our front yard, massive mosquitos and cool temperatures. Luckily it cleared and we loved our time in Moorea.
Windiest Day – Maui
Thanksgiving Day was one of the windiest Maui had seen in a long time with gusts blowing everything around including people. The only time in our two months on the island we ate our meal indoors with the doors closed.
Longest Travel Day – Cyprus to Seattle
Returning to Seattle from Larnaca Cyprus involved two flights and a stop in London for a total of 6840 miles.
Shortest Flight – Guernsey to Jersey
Originally we were going to take a 3 hour ferry from Guernsey to Jersey, but when we realized the flight was only slightly more expensive we booked it. Total flight time take off to touch down: 10 minutes 30 seconds.
Craziest Travel Day – Morocco
We flew to Dulles Airport from Turks and Caicos where we met up with our two sons who flew in from Seattle. We should have only had a three hour layover but due to a terrible storm we ended up being delayed for another 5 hours. Amazingly when we finally arrived in Casablanca our driver was still waiting for us. What a sight for sore eyes that was.
Weirdest Event – Shark Attack
A very sad and scary event while we were on the island of Maui was the death of a snorkeler who was attacked by a Tiger Shark. We felt so bad for her husband and family.
Strangest Experience – Disputed Border Crossings
This year we crossed two disputed borders; Israel to Palestine where Israelis soldiers were heavily armed and a bit rude as they guarded a 40 foot wall; and Cyprus to Northern Cyprus where UN forces keep the peace between Greek Cyprus and the disputed occupied Turkish Northern Cyprus.
Bucket list – Palestine and Israel
Since I was 12 years old I had wanted to go to Israel and Palestine. I feel very blessed to have visited.
Best Celebration – 40th Anniversary
While in Maui we had a wonderful 40th wedding anniversary celebration, in fact two. The first with our friends from home who were on the island as well as our friends from Molokai who came to join us at Mama’s Fish House. The second, just Arne and I, at the incomparable Merriman’s at Kapalua. I hope to do that again on our 80th anniversary.
Favorite Photo – Senegal
I take thousands of photos…I mean it – thousands. So choosing a favorite is hard. This year I choose this one. The color. The culture. The authentic feel of hard work and community. And that baby.
Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
There you have it. The best of the best of My Fab Fifties Life travel of 2022. Amazing, memorable and unique experiences with new cultures and experiences around the world. What a grand adventure it is. We sure hope you will consider visiting some of these places and enjoying some of these unique experiences too.
As I post this annual awards I am in the country of Honduras…my 123rd country. Our travels in 2023 currently are planned for us to visit at least a dozen and maybe more as we explore and find the rich and rewarding destinations, people, experiences, foods and beauty of this amazing planet we call home.
I hope you have enjoyed the Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022. We hope you will continue to follow us around the globe, comment, pin and share this post so others can follow as well. Thank you and be fabulous. Our blog is nearly ten years old…it wouldn’t be possible without all of you.
Enjoy this one again or for the very first time. Originally published October 2021.
We love to hike and when we are traveling we always set aside at least one day a week to hike and get out into nature. And during our recent visit to Maui we discovered another great hike to add to the many favorites we already have on this beautiful island. So today I thought I would share with you six great hikes on the island of Maui.
The area known as West Maui is home to Lahaina, Kaanapali, Napili and Kapalua. We spent six weeks exploring this area recently. Here are two of our favorite hikes.
Kapalua Coastal Trail
This trail can be busy but it’s worth it because it is so beautiful and definitely one of the six great hikes on the island of Maui. Parking can be difficult but look for street parking near the Napili Kai Resort, or paid parking at Kapalua Golf Course. Start the hike right at Merriman’s Restaurant where the trail heads north. The trail then winds through spectacular lava flows where you can see crashing waves and nesting shearwaters birds nesting. Follow the trail along the road at the Kapalua Golf Course and out to the Dragons Teeth Labyrinth. Round trip about 4 miles. Learn more here.
The Village Course and Duck Pond
The Kapalua Golf Club closed one of their three courses in 2007. Today the cart paths of the defunct Village Course are a unique and somewhat eerie (and steep) walk through a golf ghost town. It’s astonishing actually how quickly nature has reclaimed this course, making the fairways essentially unrecognizable only fourteen years later. The walk is about four miles round trip at the top is Duck Pond, a nice stop to rest or picnic before returning down. Learn more here.
South Maui is usually defined as Kihei, Wailea and Makena. We have spent a great deal of time in this part of the island and we love it.
La Perouse/Hoapili Trail
This is one of my favorites of the six great hikes on the island of Maui, but also a bit rough and difficult. Traversing over sharp lava beds, come prepared with the right shoes. It’s a hot and arid trail but provides some stunning views across to the Big Island of Hawaii. The trail is also a sacred trail for Hawaiians, once part of the King’s Highway that circled the island. Crossing the 300 year old lava field is a unique experience, if you are up for it I recommend it highly. Wear a hat and bring lots of water. Learn more here.
The region sometimes referred to as Central Maui is home to the airport in Kahului and the government seat city of Wailuku as well as malls, shopping and industrial areas.
About a 7 mile drive north and west from Wailuku you find the parking area for the Waihee Ridge Trail. We have done this trail several times and had a wide variance in weather each time. Come prepared for rain, wind, fog or clear blue skies…you never know. Arrive early for parking. The trail goes up and up the green and beautiful ridge for about 2.5 miles and if you are lucky the views are phenomenal. Learn more here.
The astonishing volcano Haleakala rises 10,000 feet (3048 meters) out of the island and can be seen from almost anywhere on the island. If you go to do either of these suggested hikes get an early start. Often the volcano is clear in the morning but clouds roll in later in the day. BE PREPARED, Haleakala can be very cold in the morning…cold enough to warrant a stocking cap and warm coat.
This is one of my favorite hikes on the island. Starting at the top of the volcano at the Visitor Information Center, Sliding Sands, as it’s name implies, is a red sandy trail that goes down inside the volcano crater. Don’t do more than you are capable of on this eleven mile round trip trail, because you need to come back up! Along this trail you will feel like you are on the moon. It’s beautiful, and you will also see the rare and endangered Silver Sword plant known only to grow in this volcano and the two volcanoes on the Big Island. Learn more here.
Approximately 14.2 miles up Highway 378 but before you reach the summit, you will see the Halemau’u Trail parking on the left side of the road. This trail often starts in the mist and clouds, but don’t despair. As you walk the ridge and then go down the rock face trail into the crater the weather usually warms and clears. There is a picnic area that is a good turn around point. Or you can hike all the way through to Sliding Sands and back up to the Visitor Center. But you will need to either have two cars or someone to bring you back to the Halemau’u parking area. Learn more here.
These are just a few of the many hikes available on the beautiful island of Maui. No matter your hiking skill level you can find a walk or hike on this island. If you are looking for additions to the six great hikes on the island of Maui check this out.
I had a wonderful time in beautiful Palm Springs California recently with a group of women I went to high school with. We try to get together every year to celebrate our long friendship and our continued comradery. This year’s reunion was a Palm Springs Weekend.
Palm Springs Weekend
Our annual reunions have been everywhere from Las Vegas to Nashville, Scottsdale to Seattle and once we did a cruise. We look for places with a variety of activities to fit everyone’s interest. Palm Springs fit the bill. Three days is not a lot of time but we squeezed a lot in and had a really fun time. Here are some of my recommendations for a Palm Springs Weekend with a date or with girlfriends.
Where to Stay
The Renaissance Marriott Palm Springs – I’m so glad we chose this hotel. It’s very close to the airport and an Uber is only $16. For our Palm Springs Weekend we did not rent a car, because the Marriott is so strategically placed. We joked that it was a half mile walk to everywhere. Very easy to get around. The Marriott rooms are spacious and comfortable and the pool side rooms have an amazing view. We also enjoyed the coffee shop and the bar. The staff was very helpful. Rooms start around $250 and up.
Where to Eat
We enjoyed dinner out at several great restaurants. Several of the girls also went out for breakfast or walked to coffee places nearby each morning. I recommend the following for dinner;
Boozehounds – a fun place with indoor and outdoor seating. You can bring your dog to the outdoor seating and they even have a special menu for the pooch.
Lulu’s Palm Springs – one of the most popular and most diverse restaurants in downtown Palm Springs. I had my favorite meal here. We all enjoyed this restaurant and our server was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Las Casuelas Terraza – one of Palm Springs oldest restaurants, family owned and run and authentically delicious. We all enjoyed a variety of Mexican specialties from Tacos to salads and Ceviche. And of course Margaritas.
Things To Do
Spend time at the Pool – the pool at the Renaissance is wonderful.
Go to the Thursday night Village Fest – back after two years on hiatus during the pandamit, the Village Fest is all about food, music, crafts, art and people watching.
Check out the Drag Show at the Copa Nightclub. I had never been to a drag show, but if you want to give it a try, Copa is great for Drag Show newbies. It was loud, colorful and pretty fun. C
Gamble or eat or both at the Agua Caliente Casino – a couple of my friends walked away with some serious winnings…but not me. But I did enjoy the drinks and appetizers which are much less expensive here than most bars or restaurants. The casino is also smoke free. Bonus.
Much More To Do
Check out my blog posts from when I spent two months in the desert. I wrote about lots of things including;
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