Friday, August 28, 2015

...And More Blue Ridge Parkway

On Day 2 of our first Blue Ridge Parkway experience, we woke up early to this view: sun streaming in through the tress and not a single car on the road for miles. It was pure bliss.   

We had to document the quiet, open road.

We did the Linn Cove Viaduct Trail first. It was supposed to be a quick 30-45 minute hike and we ended up getting lost. The funny thing is that we almost couldn't find this view below, but after doubling back and double checking a spot that we previously overlooked, BAM! There it was. This spot is on a rocky outcropping that is pretty steep and not the easiest place to take photos from. However, the good news is that we got there early so we were the only ones. It was pretty nice just to sit there and marvel at this engineering spectacle which was completed in 1987 {I was three!} and was the last section of the parkway to be completed. 

During the hike, we actually got to walk under the bridge which was very impressive to see up close.  

For our last hike of the day, we did a simple little walk around Bass Lake. Maybe it's not technically a hike, but it was beautiful.

We got off the parkway near Blowing Rock and made a quick pitstop at the Brewery for lunch. We had a lot of fun exploring this little town.

There is an actual attraction called Blowing Rock. Basically, due to the way the mysterious winds blow, it's the only place in the world where it snows upside down. You can read more about the Legend of Blowing Rock here. Below is the view from the Blowing Rock and this was actually one of my favorite views of the mountains from our entire trip. Don't the mountains really look blue?! 

The Blowing Rock, in all it's glory.

We loved the parkway so much that we ended up taking another day trip a few weeks later. I'll share more of those photos next week. I don't think I could ever get too much Blue Ridge Parkway -- it is absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait until we go back again.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

I have been wanting to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway ever since I found out we were moving to North Carolina a few years ago.  It's a short 2 hour drive to the Parkway from Charlotte and we've done it twice now this summer. It's a bit of a drive for just a day trip, but it's totally worth it for the hiking. Driving along the parkway is some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. 

For our first trip, we started at Craggy Gardens which was probably my favorite hike of the day. Then we hiked Crabtree falls. The next day we did the Linville Cove Viaduct hike and lastly we did a hike around Bass Lake (photos to come in the next blog post).

DAY 1: 

Craggy Gardens Summit: 

Next up:  Crabtree Falls Hike. A bit more strenuous than our first hike but totally worth it for the view at the end.

Our adorable AirBNB we stayed at in Little Switzerland, NC.

I'll post more photos from our second day at the Blue Ridge Parkway and surrounding areas in my next blog entry.   

Happy Traveling!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hawaii | Kauai

Kauai is probably my favorite place I've ever lived {so far}. When I was seven years old, we moved to Kauai, Hawaii from Port Huron, Michigan. And yes, it was a HUGE change from the Michigan winters. I have mostly pleasant memories growing up here and made some of my best friends that I am still close with to this day.

All in all, I spent ten years of my childhood here and moved away after I graduated from high school to attend a small private college in Washington state. My parents and brother moved to The Big Island {Hilo side} in 2004 so we try to concentrate our trips on the Big Island but Kauai is still my favorite so we always have to take a few days {5 in this case} to hang out here since it's where all my memories are!  

Last time we visited Kauai was 2009 -- I cannot believe it had been six years. That is just crazy talk. I must say that it has been nice to explore the mainland and Europe, but there is really no place like Hawaii {or Kauai for that matter}.  We splurged on a 5 star hotel and it was so worth it! I really felt pampered and the pool was heavenly. If you ever find yourself on Kauai, The St. Regis is definitely the place to be. We tried to spend as much time as possible there and it was a bit of a challenge because I had so many people I wanted to see and old haunts I wanted to revisit. But, I feel like we did a good job of relaxing + seeing the island.  It is so much more beautiful than I remember it. But, you know what they say. You do have to leave in order to truly appreciate the beauty.

One of my favorite things we did was a NaPali Boat tour. Can you believe I lived here for 10 years of my life and never did this?!?! Yikes. Well, never again... and next time we are going to do a Helicopter Ride even though we are both deathly afraid of heights. If not now, when!? 

Jake got in some golfing {2x} so he was a happy camper! While he golfed, I beached. It worked out perfectly. 

Below was our gorgeous view at Breakfast at the hotel. This photo doesn't do it justice - the view is breathtaking. 

The day before we left, we finally made it to Ke'e Beach {my favorite}.

There was a guy selling coconuts from the back of his truck so we gladly obliged. Best $5 I ever spent. We couldn't even finish the coconut water, those things are so full!

I love this church in Hanalei. I remember spending some time here as a child and it has some very special memories for me.

....and Justin Bieber even made an appearance. So, we were at the pool and I had been dying to spot a celebrity. Every time we travel anywhere, I am always trying to find a celebrity. I was so disappointed after not spotting one during our last trip to NYC. Anyway, I totally thought I spotted Anna Kendrick at the pool and all of a sudden, Jake taps my arm and he goes "The Biebs is here!" I was like no way... upon further inspection, it was him, doesn't the security guy make it obvious?! He hung around the pool and said hi when people came up to him, but he wouldn't take any photos. He headed off to a massage but I knew we would see him again. We had dinner reservations at 7 pm so we had to head back to our hotel room and get ready. When I pushed the button for the elevator, boom - out pops his security guard and none other than Justin Bieber himself. I decided that I didn't want him to think he was such a big shot, so I didn't even look at him. Guys, I snubbed Justin! Jake said he looked at him and he wasn't wearing sunglasses and he just noticed all of his tattoos. So, I missed my shot of seeing him up close. Who does that?! And finally as we were heading to the airport, we spotted his escalade and security guard taking all of the bottled water so the valet guys didn't have any left for us. Rude! Haha... he must live such a crazy life, though. The next time I looked at his Instagram, he was in Bora Bora crashing someone's honeymoon. So there's that...

and lastly, a Sunset dinner on our last night. Kauai -- we love you and we'll be back soon!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hawaii | A Wedding in Paradise

Jake and I had been wanting to make a trip to Hawaii since it had been six years since our last trip ...and I hadn't seen my family in 2 years. Hopefully we won't ever have to go that long again. When my brother announced that he was planning to propose, the timing couldn't have been more perfect. We had over a year to plan {and save} so that was very helpful so we could get our ducks in a row. They had a huge wedding, but it was just gorgeous and everyone had the best time. I helped my parents get all dolled up and we all just really enjoyed ourselves. I will admit that I did shed a few {happy} tears.

CONGRATS, AARON & LYDIA | June 6, 2015! 
#alberswedding6615 on Instagram

First, a few professional photos: 

...and my photos are below:

The bride and groom did an amazing job planning and the venue was gorgeous. Leading up to the wedding, everyone back in the mainland was asking me if they were getting married on a beach and I had to laugh, everyone has their stereotypes of a Hawaiian wedding.  Their wedding was actually at Nani Mau Gardens in Hilo which is just beautiful. Highly recommend if you ever find yourself on the Big Island.

The reception was a blast! So much fun dancing! 

Cheers to Aaron & Lydia! We love you guys so much and wish you only the best.

Kim (+ Jake)


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