Photo-roll: Whale Watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maui, Hawaii

One of our more spectacular honeymoon activities was an unforgettable snorkeling trip that featured easily the best whale-watching of my life.  Honestly – I’ll let the photos do the talking – but the views of humpback whales during the winter are fantastic. You can easily spot these gentle beauties from shore, but a whale-watching or snorkeling trip can get you up close and personal. I highly recommend the adventure.

We chose to take a snorkeling trip with the Pacific Whale Foundation. It was fantastic from start to finish and I highly recommend taking any trip that the foundation has to offer. Their vessels are up-to-date and their staff are knowledgeable – two huge wins in my book!

The trip began with a dark cloud – we were told that the waters were rough and we were not likely to get any snorkeling in. They offered us a refund, but we were also given the option to take the trip out to the reef to check things out. I’m glad to say that we took the chance (I mean, if nothing else we would have had a boat ride) because the water almost immediately cleared up and we were snorkeling in paradise.

The reef is interesting – Molokini provides a crescent shaped barrier against the sea, creating a uniquely-shaped reef that shelters a plethora of marine life. I was terrified to take the plunge, but after a little reassurance, I stuck my head in and was amazed by the sights: yellow tangs, trigger fish, butterflyfish… too many to name or identify! As we swam triggerfish bobbed around us like puppy dogs – I was in fish biologist heaven.

We were particularly fortunate as the day progressed – the water cleared up enough to permit a stop at a second site, the infamous Turtle Town. And yes, I got to swim with actual sea turtles. To my amazement, one swam directly underneath me as I floated with eyes the size of saucers (Scott will attest to this observation). It. Was. Fantastic!

Aboard the ship we were treated to talks about humpback whale migration and behaviour, tasty BBQ burgers, a salad made of pickles, and a beverage from the Maui Brewing Company. Such a treat after over an hour of swimming.

Of course, the whale watching was particularly spectacular – it’s kind of hard not to focus on that since my previous whale watching trip was kind of a dud. We got to see several pods of whales – including a nursing mother – as well as dolphins and turtles.

Fun Tool for Designing a Virtual Garden

Happy Weekend!

This afternoon the sun is shining and I’ve got garden on the brain. Of course, there are still several feet of snow covering the ground… so I’ve been keeping entertained by playing with this delightful little Garden-Builder from Gardeners.com. Mine looked like this:

Gardeners Virtual Garden Plot

You can drag-and-drop your favourite veggies into the various sized plots to generate a list of planting instructions including recommended planting times, heat requirements, and planting densities. Also, it’s pretty fun. Check it out – and keep your thoughts on all things green as the warm weather returns.

Saturday Smoothies – I Bought a Blender

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I recently purchased the Nutribullet blender… annnnnd… I’m becoming one of those smoothie-drinking people.

So far, the Nutribullet is great – it makes blended beverages in just the right size for two and can make soup in seven minutes. Like actual hot soup. It’s pretty cool. (hot).

I’m just starting to come up with recipes for smoothies. I’ve started with a pretty basic green smoothie recipe: spinach, frozen banana, mango, pineapple, yogurt, orange juice, and a dab of honey. It’s tasty – and weirdly enough you can’t taste the spinach at all. I think this week I’ll add in blueberries… who knows.

Anyway… I might become one of those smoothie-drinking people. Aw well – if I think of any mind-blowing recipes, I’ll share them here.

Got any favourite smoothie additions? Let me know in the comments.

Cities: Skylines City Simulator Review

Every once in a while I find a video game that surprises me. I’ve played a number of simulation games including a number of the Sim city spin offs. I always found them interesting, but the gameplay always felt overly simplified, while (ironically) the controls felt overly complicated. Frustrating.

I was surprised when I came across Cities: Skylines. The gameplay is smooth and the controls are easy to learn. The graphics are fantastic – with individual city-dwellers that each have their own stats much like Roller Coaster Tycoon characters. Each building has it’s own stats, roadways interact, and there are plenty of complex environmental, socioeconomic, and industrial challenges to overcome.

I enjoy how this game progresses gradually, yet doesn’t leave you waiting for money and resources. It’s an oddly relaxing simulator that’s great for people who just want to build a city. None of the random disasters, yet all of the complexities of managing day-to-day interactions within your simulated town. This game is oddly addictive and well worth checking out.

A Trip to Maui Brewing Company

Maui Brewing Company

While in Maui, Scott and I enjoyed trying out the local brews – and Maui Brewing Company was a particular treat.

The we stopped briefly at their brew pub which is located at the Gateway Mall in Lahaina. I tried the Barefoot brew and Scott tried something very dark… I forgot to write it down! I enjoyed the light taste of the Barefoot, although I much preferred their slightly fruity Mana Wheat beer (brewed with a hint of Maui gold pineapple).  They offered over ten beers on tap, in addition to their four flagship beers.

The atmosphere of the pub was very relaxed and modern, much like the Gahan pub in PEI. We regretted eating a picnic lunch before stumbling upon the brewery because the food smelled fantastic. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in Maui.

We decided to treat ourselves to two Maui Brewing Company Beer Glasses to remember the many great brews that we tried at restaurants around the Island.

Maui Brewing Company

What Will I Do Differently This Year?

Continuing on with my Live This Day posts – tonight I am thinking about what I will do differently in the year to come.  

I stumbled across these beautiful inspirational stones in Maui - I like to think that these represent personal goals of complete strangers

I stumbled across these beautiful inspirational stones in Maui – I like to think that these represent personal goals of complete strangers

As I’ve previously eluded, my birthday is fast approaching. Since I’m a reflective-type, I like to take time to think celebrate accomplishments and create new goals at this time of year.  Last year I wanted to “start doing”, “solve my own problems”, and “stretch for a new role at work”.

I actually met those goals – I started blogging every day, planned my own wedding, and found a challenging new job that I love – I made huge leaps and met personal goals in unexpected ways.

This goes to show one thing – that you never know how your goals will be reached. Setting goals that focus on outcomes rather than specific tasks can help you to recognize your own accomplishments. And the feeling is pretty spectacular.

This year I want to keep up the momentum – to focus on love, to develop my voice, and to find my own pace. These goals sound vague, but have great personal meaning. I can see myself working towards my fitness goals, improving relationships, writing more, learning to speak up at work, and breaking my habit of comparing myself to others.

A Sunrise to Remember – A Trip to Maui’s Haleakala Crater in Photos

One of my most memorable mornings started with a 3:30 AM wake-up call.

Scott and I had just arrived in Maui, Hawaii, for our honeymoon – and we’d decided to put our 6 hours of jet-lag to use in order to catch the sunrise over the Haleakala Crater at Maui’s Haleakala National Park.

We were not disappointed.

Arriving at just after 6, we stood for just under an hour and waited with baited breath as the sky shifted from inky blue through the rainbow of transitions to day. The sunrise was met with the clatter of cameras and audible gasps – a truly breathtaking spectacle to share with… say… 200 strangers.

After the sunrise we realized that we had stopped before reaching the real peak, so we drove up to the Pu’u’ula’ula summit. Here we saw the endemic silversword – a plant that only grows above 6900 feet on the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaii and Maui. I was taken by the pale beauty of this rare beauty.

This trip was absolutely spectacular – a real must-see for all visitors to the Island. But be sure to take plenty of water, snacks, and warm clothing – it’s frigid at this height!