Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Keepin' Me Healthy

The alarm goes off this morning at an unheard of 5:45 a.m.

I groggily reach over, hit the “Off” button, and immediately pull the covers back up over my head, hoping against hope that the obnoxious buzzer was really just part of a really bad nightmare….Surely it can’t be time to get up already??!!

As I am silently cursing the alarm gods, my dear Hubby jumps up out of bed, goes to the closet where he quickly dons his workout clothes, and then heads downstairs to the treadmill, where he happily runs 3.3 miles. Gah.

This is when I truly know that the man I married is certifiably insane.

And thus the difference between us…and why my dear Hubby is my “Who Keeps You Healthy?” Hero.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a “Who Keeps You Healthy?” campaign, sponsored by the American Recall Center.* They asked me to write a post about someone in my life who keeps me healthy – and for me, it was a no-brainer.

When I first met Hubby, fruits and vegetables were anathemas to me. I’d sooner die than put something natural – or organic – in my mouth…and yet, Hubby patiently worked with me over the years, finally convincing me of the benefits of a healthy diet. Over the years, my intake of processed foods has dramatically decreased, while my intake of fruits, vegetables and lean-processed meats has increased – leading to a recent drop in my cholesterol level by 36 points, and a drop in my weight, as well…although I won't tell you how much THAT was…hee hee. Double bonus! Squeee!

And because he has demonstrated over the years that it’s never too early to exercise in the mornings, or too cold to exercise (although I do like to protest sometimes), he’s inspired me to crawl out of bed – sometimes before sunrise, even – and hit the pavement, as well. EEP.

If he can do it, by golly, so can I…although there are definite times I honestly have to admit that I wish that he WASN'T doing it…and yet…and yet…once I get going, I find that my energy levels soar, and my body feels ON FIRE. In a good way, of course. So, yes…I got out of bed and laced up my shoes and ran my own 5k this morning, after he left for work. Although I have to be honest and admit that I would have much preferred to still be burrowed under the covers.

So, hats off to you, Dear Hubby, my “Who Keeps You Healthy?” Hero. Your examples over the years have been a true inspiration, and I look forward (sometimes) to running by your side for years to come.

We can at least sleep in on the weekends…right??? Right???


*The American Recall Center provides drug & medical device recall information alongside practical healthcare information and support. Their aim is to build the most comprehensive resource on the Internet for timely & trusted material regarding healthcare topics. This month, they are focusing on hip replacement awareness…check out this interesting blog post from a woman who recently had a hip replacement...


Monday, March 17, 2014

Story Horse? *


Every so often or so, you read those weird stories in the newspaper or a magazine about someone who finds out, like, after 50 years or so, that they were adopted. Or they have an adopted brother or sister that they never knew about…or something else truly stunning that leaves you scratching your head, thinking, "Wow. How weird to not know that about yourself after all this time."

Don't worry.

I didn't just find out that I was adopted or anything, because that really WOULD be freaky…and besides, as crazy as my mother is, I have NO doubt that I am truly her biological daughter. (She's probably reading this right now, so let me insert here that I love her, craziness and all…hee hee.)

No, I didn't just find out I was adopted…but I DID just find out - a month ago or so - that who I THOUGHT I was…was not quite accurate.

Based on family lore, as well as my own genealogical research of my family, I knew that I was pretty much German on my Dad's side, because with a maiden name of "Wagner" - there wasn't much doubt. Duh. Although my great-great-great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian, who was called "Brownie" by her husband and family, giving me a bit of Indian blood…which is rather cool, I think.

So, that was my Dad's side. As far as my mother's side, the story had come down that her maternal family was German, and her paternal family had come to the United States back in the 1700's from Wales. For 50+ years, I had assumed that I was German-Welsh-American Indian...and left it at that. Rather boring, but what can one do with family heritage??

This past January, I was in Ft Myers, Florida, and took my aunt to a Celtic Festival…I blogged about it here, if you want a refresher. Anyway…as we were wandering around the festival, I couldn't help but look around at all the people who were proclaiming their Irish and Scottish pride…and I was a bit envious. How I wish I could have been sporting a festive t-shirt, proclaiming my heritage - but there aren't that many t-shirts floating around that say, "Proud to be Welsh" - or "Proud to be German-Welsh-American Indian" - etc, etc.


My aunt heard me sighing, and asked what the problem was, so I quickly explained:

Me: I have t-shirt envy. I wish we had a t-shirt that had OUR heritage on it.

Aunt: What are you talking about? We DO!!!!

Me: No, we don't. Look around…there aren't any t-shirts that say, "Kiss me, I'm Welsh!"

Aunt: WHAH??!! Welsh??!! We're not Welsh!!!! Our family came from Scotland!!!!

Wait, what?


Well. Upon further research, I discovered that my maternal grandfather's family actually originated in Tipperary, Ireland…eventually moved to Scotland…later, moved to Wales…and THEN emigrated to the United States.

Do you know what this means???!!!!

It means - KISS ME!!! I'M IRISH!!!!!

Woot, woot! You can not EVEN imagine how excited I was to learn this! I can wear a t-shirt now! I can celebrate Saint Patrick's Day and not feel like a fraud! I can eat corned beef and drink green beer! Well. Actually, I HATE corned beef and beer, so scratch that last one - but you get the drift.

It DID feel rather strange to JUST be learning this after fifty years…to just now be finding out a piece of yourself that you didn't know existed, so to speak…but hey. I'm happy. It explains a lot, actually - especially the part of me that likes to tell an audience a story, right??!!

Now - if you'll excuse me…I have fifty years of Saint Patrick's Days to make up for, so I'd better get busy.


* "What's the story, horse?" — abbreviated as "story horse?" — is how you ask a buddy what's up in Ireland. It's a less breezy greeting than its American counterpart, and invites the other person to really dive into what's been going on in life.

**Our family's coat of arms


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Legends Never Die

Sometimes in life, when you least expect it, something so amazing happens that it will become the stuff of future family lore…the story that gets told around the family dinners and passed on to future generations. You all know what I'm talking about, as I am sure that EVERY family has such stories and tales…usually, the tale gets bigger and bigger every time it's told, exaggerated beyond belief, until eventually it becomes legend.

Such is the story that unfolded on Monday of this week, while we we were innocently attending a baseball game here in Fort Myers. Minding our own business, really, not realizing that a memory was about to be made that will never be forgotten. Oh, I'm sure it will get "stretched" a bit in the future…it will get bigger and bigger as it's retold…and that's okay. Because we were there, and we saw it happen.

To set the scene…Hubby and I, along with our two youngest, headed over to Jet Blue Park, the Spring Training home of the 2013 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox. We try to attend a Red Sox game every March when we visit Fort Myers for Spring Break, and this year was no exception - except that about 20,000 other people ALL had the same idea, being that the Red Sox are the defending World Champions and everyone else wants to jump on their bandwagon.

In case you had a brain fart and FORGOT who won the 2013 World Series, there were plenty of reminders everywhere at the ballpark...

Several months ago, I had managed to snag some halfway-decent tickets to Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays…our seats were down the right-field line, about three rows back from the field. We arrived at the game about two hours before game time…which is God-awfully early, I agree, but necessary during a Spring Training game, when fans will begin streaming in THREE hours before game time.

Spring Training is very laid back…the players are much more at ease, especially when mingling with the fans. They'll usually take more time to interact with the crowd, giving out autographs, photos, and baseball tips. We decided we would just chill out before the game, soaking in the sun, the laid-back atmosphere, and the beauty of the ballpark. Jet Blue Park is only about two years old, and is a state of the art facility. It's called "Fenway South" - as it's a replica of Fenway Park, up in Boston….

In case you had a brain fart and FORGOT that Jet Blue Park is known as "Fenway South", there were reminders everywhere at the ballpark…they seem to be pretty good at these reminders, it appears….

There's even a replica of the Green Monster out in left field:

It's pretty awesome…last year, we sat on top of that…but it was a little high for me...

We spent some time initially exploring the area that has a tribute to some of Boston's greatest players, as well as a tribute to Jackie Robinson:

Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski…played his entire 23-year career with the Red Sox…one of my favorite players of all time...

Jackie Robinson…truly a legend, and someone I wish I had been able to see play…

We eventually made our way into the stadium and found our seats…it was nice just chilling out, listening to some great music on the loudspeakers, and watching the Tampa Bay Rays take batting practice. Sitting where we were, it soon became very evident that an awful lot of balls were being smacked into the section of seats right beside us…there was a group of young men hanging out in this section with their baseball gloves, all eager to scoop up a foul ball as a free souvenir. After watching this for a few minutes, I leaned over to our son, Taylor, and daughter, Mikayla, and casually said, "Hey! You guys should be over there - you might catch something, too!"

I didn't really think they would take me up on this…as both are somewhat shy and hesitant…but seeing that the stadium was still pretty empty, and that no one would mind if they moved over a section to scoop up errant foul balls, they soon got to their feet and moved over to the next section. Apparently, Hubby had missed my suggestion, as he soon realized the kids had gone, and seeing where they'd went, he voiced his concerns:

Hubby, in shock: "Wait, what??!! What the heck are the kids doing over there???!!!"

Me: "They're going to try to catch a foul ball."

Hubby, in disbelief: "EEK! MIKAYLA is going to catch a foul ball???!!! Hardly - she's more likely to break her neck!!!!"

Which is somewhat true. She IS a bit of a Klutz…and not exactly athletic, AT ALL. She's more likely to catch a cold, actually, than catch a baseball. But, still…

Me: "Oh, leave her alone. Let her have some fun. Besides, it's not like she'll catch anything. Taylor's over there, too, and he'll make sure to catch anything before it can do any damage to her."

Which is true. Taylor played baseball for many, many years, including playing on the varsity team at high school. And he's 6'5" tall. If a ball was anywhere CLOSE to hitting Mikayla, Taylor can reach over with his long arm and defend her nose or her face. He's got quite a stretch.

Not quite happy with this, Hubby studies the scene a few minutes longer, and notices that Taylor is in Row 1, along with 10 other young men about his age, up against the barrier between the seats and the field…while Mikayla is standing a few rows behind Taylor….

Hubby: "Why is Mikayla standing so far back???!! Why isn't she with everyone else, in the first row??"

Me: "Well, she's waiting for the bounce. Besides, this is GOOD that she's not in the first row. It's less likely she'll get smacked with a ball in her face, because Taylor will snatch anything that's even close to her, with her being behind him."

This is true. At least logically, this sounded very true. Little did I know that this was NOT going to happen.

Sure enough.

No sooner had I said that, when we heard a crack of the bat…and saw a screaming line drive heading right towards us…or at least the next section over.

Hubby and I immediately sat up straight, and I remember saying out loud, "Uh oh. Here we go."

As we watched the ball sail over our heads, heading towards the kids, I was holding my breath. What would happen? Would Mikayla's nose get smashed with a baseball, giving her a 4th broken nose??? Which would mean I would NEVER hear the end of it from Hubby??!! Or would Taylor reach up with his incredible height and save the day???

As the ball arc'd downwards towards the group of eager young men, all straining to jump up and catch it, one of them must have tipped it - so it sailed over their heads, took a bounce right by Mikayla, who then shot out one hand and grabbed the ball. On it's first bounce. She was off balance as she grabbed it, and tilted alarmingly over, appearing to almost topple over the seats, but she caught herself…and quickly righted herself, holding the ball up triumphantly with one arm...

…as the group of young men in Row #1 - including her brother - looked at her in disbelief...

…as the small crowd sitting in various sections close to this section gave her a round of applause - the young 14-year old girl, beating out the 20-year old men, the majority of whom had on GLOVES, mind you, in the hunt for the souvenir…

…and as her parents watched in a state of shock, mixed with a huge swelling of pride.

THAT'S OUR GIRL!!!!!!! I wanted to shout, and blast over the loudspeakers.


Well. The smile on Mikayla's face was pretty much permanently plastered there the rest of the afternoon…it got even better when she gathered up the courage and had Tampa Bay shortstop Sean Rodriguez autograph her ball.

Such is the stuff of lore…the day that our daughter caught a ball at the baseball game.

Beating out men…with gloves. Beating out her 6'5" brother.

And not breaking her neck in the process.



Monday, March 10, 2014

What A Ride! My 1,000th Post!!!

Today's post was going to be all snark and caustic wit, about something or other mundane or trivial, which was going to be hugely amusing, when I realized...

…this is my 1,000th post.


One thousand posts.

What a milestone.

One thousand times, I've put "pen to paper", so to speak, and been inspired with something to write about.

One thousand times, I've taken that inspiration and sat behind the computer, starting with words and putting them into paragraphs….

One thousand times, I've then taken those paragraphs and arranged them into a story…

One thousand times, I've then taken the story, found a related photo, dreamed of a title, and then hit the "Publish" button…

One thousand times, I've wondered if, after hitting "Publish", anyone is reading my stories…and what their reaction is…

Are they amused? Inspired? Pissed? Will they comment? (I love comments, by the way.)

It's been a long journey to arrive at my 1,000th post…starting this blog in the last month of 2008, I had no idea where it would take me…and if I would still even be blogging five years later…and yet, here I am.

One thousand posts.

During that time, some amazing things have happened along the way…I've been to some really cool places…I've met some truly inspirational people…I've gone through some awfully tough times, but pulled through…and I've been fortunate enough to write about all of these along the way.

One thousand posts.

Well…here's to putting "pen to paper" and starting my next 1,000 posts. Who knows where that journey will lead to? Who will I meet along the way? What cool places I will visit? What tough times are in store for me?

As my blog title promises, it's all about the "Adventures of a Middle-Aged Drama Queen" - and so I'll be here, enjoying life and it's adventures all along the way…and I hope you, Dear Readers, will still be here right beside me.

And always feel free to comment. Bloggers love comments.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

As American As Baseball, Root Beer, Puppies and Naps

There is a reason that baseball rolls around every year when it does…during the spring…when promises of warmth, sunshine and flowers coincides with promises of batting championships and league pennants and World Series rings.

The bleakness of winter is, for the most part, behind us…and the boys of summer dust off their bats, rosin up their gloves, and take the fields, as anxious as the fans to dive headfirst into a new season….

After arriving in beautiful and sunny Fort Myers yesterday afternoon, we couldn't wait to don our own baseball hats and head off to our first Spring Training game today - a match-up between the Minnesota Twins and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Am I fan of either team?

Heck, no.

But, I AM a fan of baseball…so it was actually rather relaxing to head to a game and not worry about who was going to win.

We arrived at the ballpark about two hours before game time, thinking this would allow us to beat the crowds. Oh, silly us. We forget how passionate Spring Training fans are…upon arrival, it became apparent that not even a FOUR-hour head start would have helped.

Outside Hammond Stadium, my son and daughter pose for their traditional pic:

It's traditional, because these two kids have posed like this outside baseball stadiums for years and years. Instinct, I guess.

One of the joys of Spring Training is the intimacy…the players are up-close and personable, including batting practice. We were able to walk right up and enjoy the Twins taking a few swings:

This is actually right outside the stadium, on a separate field…but it's something you would NEVER find in a major-league ballpark during the regular season.

After watching some of the guys take some swings, we meandered into the stadium, where we quickly found our seats. We were ten rows behind the Phillies' dugout, and we had an awesome view of their batting practice, as well:

Since we had some time to kill before the game, Daughter and I did a selfie:

But, wait a minute…there's a problem. A "good" selfie (but really, IS there such a thing? I digress, however) should include the background of where you're at, so you'll remember the event. We had not taken our selfie with the ballpark in the back - so we decided to take another one. We had just stood up to take it when an elderly gentleman behind us asked if he could help us and take the picture for us. Not wanting to seem rude, we shrugged and handed him our camera. I thought it was hysterically funny when I got home and discovered he'd held his finger down on the camera shutter forever, so we came home with a TON of photos:

That's just some of them. I think there were three more pages of photos. Gah.

They weren't too bad, but my baseball hat cast a rather dark shadow on my face…which could actually be a good thing. Hee hee.

Son and Hubby take their batting practice a bit more serious…no "selfies" for them - they were intently watching the field:

Soon, it was time for the National Anthem. A little girl, who couldn't have been more than 10 years old, walked out on the field with a microphone, began singing the anthem, and proceeded to KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK. Seriously, her voice sounded like a 35-year old operatic singer - the crowd was blown away and gave her a resounding standing ovation that lasted a few minutes. What a moment.

Then, Play Ball!

It soon became very evident that this was going to be a pitcher's duel…with little-to-no offense. By the fourth inning, I think there was a total of three hits. Gah. I hate scoreless games. I like a bit of action. I want to see singles and doubles and homers and stolen bases. Instead, all we saw were outs.

Speaking of action, every now and then a breeze would kick up, as evidenced by the flags in left field:

Hey. After air-conditioning, swimming pools and sunscreen, breezes are the fourth-best invention EVER in the state of Florida. We learn to appreciate them, especially while baking in the sun in the grandstands of a baseball park. Because, sure enough, it began to get even hotter, and I discovered this unwelcome sight:

Ack. No breeze. A Floridian's worst nightmare. Perhaps a cold drink is needed.

I do have to admit that the World's Best Root Beer can be found at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. We discovered this little gem when we first began coming to these games a few years back - and it may or may not be the reason we keep coming back to the Twins games:

I've seriously never found a better Root Beer - it's cold, refreshing and just the right sweetness…and it's gluten-free, to boot, as it proudly says right on the lid. Woot!

All good things must come to an end…the game ended in a 1-1 tie (and yes, ties are allowed in Spring Training), so we jumped in the car and decided to pay a surprise visit to my parents. And the fact that we timed our visit perfectly with dinner was a pure coincidence. Really.

It's a good day when you see your son passed out on Grandma's floor, with their dog, Snickers, cuddled up next to him with her favorite toy:

Seriously. How cute is that? Baseball…puppies…naps…does life get any better???!!



Friday, March 7, 2014

Climbing Diamond Head: A Pictorial Review

What motivates you?

When faced with life’s challenges, it’s interesting to me to see what motivates people to push on…to go beyond what they think they are capable of…to rise above (perceived, in most cases) obstacles and reach their goals….

Way, way back in college, I always found motivational psychology extremely fascinating…if I’d pursued my career in psychology, the study of motivation would have been the avenue I would have gone down. What does it take to get people to do something they don’t necessarily want to do?

Is it the promise of fame? Of fortune? An intrinsic reward, perhaps? Or possibly it’s not a reward at all, but fear that motivates someone – fear of being ridiculed if they DON’T meet the challenge…?

What motivates you?

Recently, while visiting Hawaii and faced with a personal challenge of hiking up Diamond Head, I discovered what motivates me…and it’s probably not what you would think.

Diamond Head…the most recognized landmark in Hawaii. It was believed to have been formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, brief volcanic eruption, leaving behind an example of what scientists call a “tuff cone.” It got its Western name in the late 1700s, when explorers visited the island and mistook the calcite crystals on the crater for diamonds.

It’s now an official state monument, and offers visitors from around the world an opportunity to hike the trails to it’s summit. From the trailhead to the top, the hike is .8 mile one way, and climbs 560 feet from the crater floor. Although it’s not a particularly lengthy hike, the trail follows an uneven and steep terrain requiring caution – especially when the rocky slopes are wet, either from rain or dew.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in February that I decided to give this hike a try. I had NOT climbed Diamond Head on my previous trip to Hawaii, a decision I had ever since regretted. With my new mantra of living life with no regrets, I knew I would not miss out on this experience for this trip. I was doing it.

My hotel was a good distance away from Diamond Head, so I knew I needed transportation to get to the trailhead. One option was to take the public bus, but I had heard that the bus parks a good distance from the trailhead, which could add another mile (or two) to an already long hike. After some research, I ended up booking a guided tour, which included transportation, through Oahu Nature Tours. For a cost of $27, I had pick-up/delivery from my hotel, bottled water, and a guide that would point out sites of interest during the hike, as well as supplying lots of history and trivia, which I devour like candy.

Promptly at 9:00 am that morning, Rana, our guide for the day, pulled up at my hotel in her mini-bus. A native Hawaiian (which is rare, it seems!), she was spunky, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable about all things Hawaiian. Right from the get-go, I knew we were in for some fun times. At her invitation, I hopped up in the shot-gun position in the bus, and we quickly made two more stops along the way, picking up a grand total of five additional people for our hike.

As we were maneuvering through Honolulu-traffic, which can normally be a nightmare, but wasn’t too God-awful bad on a Saturday morning, Rana gave a brief overview of the hike we would be doing. She mentioned that there were three separate sets of stairs: the first set at 74 steps; the second flight at a more difficult 99 steps; and an easy metal spiral staircase of about 30 steps.

And here’s where I got nervous.

I hate climbing. I especially hate climbing stairs. What if I got too winded and couldn’t finish the hike? She then mentioned the rocky, slippery terrain, which caused even more anxiety…what if I slipped? (I’m prone to do that, due to my Queen of Klutziness title). Seeing the anxiety on my face, since I’m pretty terrible at masking my emotions, Rana quickly tried to assuage my fears.

“You’ll be fine,” she promised. “We’ll go at a pace that is comfortable to everyone.”

Taking a deep breath, I took a look around the van to see if I was the only one who was having doubts about their ability to make the trek…and soon realized that I was the youngest person in the van. Yikes. THAT sort of put things into perspective. And if that wasn’t enough, it dawned on me that one of the ladies was using a cane.

Yes. A cane.

And she was going to climb Diamond Head.

Um. Okay. THERE’S my motivation to not fail.

Dad gummit, if an elderly lady with a CANE can climb a volcanic cone, then by golly, I CAN, TOO!

Hey. Whatever it takes.

Arriving at the parking lot, Rana passed out water bottles…and then insured that everyone had a backpack and was ready to make the climb. I had brought my own backpack, but if you didn’t have one, she was quick to loan you one that the company provides. Removing some “dead weight” from my backpack, I packed just the essentials: water, Trail mix, and sunscreen…along with my iPhone/camera.

Ready or not…here we come. (Remember - if you want to see any of these photos up close, or larger - just click on the photo and it will enlarge.)

Rana points out our ultimate goal…climb. Climb really high. Climb to that point. EEP.

The trail starts on a paved path, before climbing several steep switchbacks leading up to the first set of stairs. The pavement quickly gives way to dirt, and then to rocks. Lots of rocks. Sharp, slippery rocks. BE SURE TO WEAR GOOD HIKING SHOES, as it was definitely treacherous in places. The poor souls wearing flip-flops were quickly regretting their poor choice in footwear, trust me.

This is the "dirt" section of the trail…. This wasn't slippery, but could be muddy, if it's recently rained….

The trail is narrow…very narrow. For most of the hike, it’s a single-file line of folks trudging up, just leaving enough room for the single-file line of folks gingerly making their way down.

The ants go marching one by one…hurrah…hurrah...

More ants…do you see them???!!

You can only hike as fast as the person in front of you, but every so often, there would be enough trail space that the faster hikers could quickly pass the slower ones before merging back into the single-file line. At this point, I have to say that I was pretty darned impressed with Carol…the lady with the cane. She was hiking along at the same pace as everyone, not causing any kind of a slowdown behind her.

Showing how narrow the path can be….

Up, up, up we went…stopping every so often to catch our breath, or to enjoy an occasional lookout point, taking photos of the beautiful countryside surrounding us.

So far, so good…I'm still smiling…!

At one point, we had to go through a very long – and very dark – tunnel (225 feet long), which is NOT good when you’re claustrophobic. As long as the line of hikers keeps moving, it’s okay…but if the line should come to a dead stop…such as it did on our way back down, for no apparent reason…it can be FREAKY. Being trapped…in the dark…with a mountain of earth and rock above my head…is NOT exactly pleasant. After two minutes of not moving, I was pretty much in full hyperventilation mode…but fortunately, Rana was there to "talk me off the ledge", and soon we were moving again. Whew. Panic attack averted.

Ugh. I hate tunnels.

It's right after you exit the tunnel that you come face-to-face with the 99 steps. However, there's good news: there's an alternative, if you want to skip these…an alternate, winding path that will allow you to avoid the stairs. As a team, we took a vote and decided to go for the stairs - wanting to push ourselves to the limit. Carol was just as eager to do the stairs, so we gave her a bit of a head-start, and we followed behind….

Carol is the lady in blue…about mid-way up….

Here's some photos from the bunkers:

Before I knew it, we were at the summit…along with 10,000 other tourists, all clamoring to get the perfect photos of Waikiki Beach below. Okay, perhaps I’ve slightly exaggerated on how many tourists were actually at the top – but it was definitely crowded.

And it was definitely awesome.

To make it even more awesome, I witnessed a marriage proposal at the very top. During the proposal, about 9,000 other tourists whipped out their cell phones and began recording the event…but I thought that might be a big creepy/stalkerish, since I didn't exactly KNOW these people. So, I waited until we were making our way back down the mountain, and then I snuck in a photo from behind them, because that’s not creepy/stalkerish at all. Hee.

In case you weren't sure if you were at the top, they have thoughtfully posted a sign telling you that it's time to go back. You're done.

We spent about 20 minutes at the summit, before gingerly making our way back down. All too soon, it was over.

I had climbed Diamond Head.

And so had Carol, the lady with the cane. She made it ALL the way to the summit, not letting stairs, slippery rocks, or impatient climbers behind her get in her way of her goal. She was awesome, a true inspiration.

I was back at the hotel by 12:30 that afternoon, hot, sweaty and ready for a well-deserved and well-earned refreshing dip in the ocean. Which was pretty darned awesome, as well.

Check out these AWESOME graphics, where a guy named Mark Heringer mapped out the actual hike, using an app on his phone:

I took his graphic and then added some information to be helpful…

You can see that by taking the public bus, you will be adding quite a bit of a walk to an already LONG hike…

Tips for Climbing:
1. Go EARLY in the morning, as it will get HOT, HOT, HOT. Most of the trail is not covered, so you will be exposed to the elements – and the sun. Wear sunscreen - wear a hat.
2. Wear GOOD walking/hiking shoes. The trail is slippery and rocky.
3. Use a comfortable backpack to carry your water and snacks, keeping your hands free for balance.
4. The path/trail will get more crowded as the day progresses. Go early and beat some of the crowds.
5. Take your time and enjoy the views as you climb. No need to rush – it’s not a race. It’s a beautiful journey to be savored and enjoyed.

I'm checking this off my Bucket List, but due to the fact that it was so enjoyable, I'll probably make a point of climbing Diamond Head on all future trips to Honolulu…even if I'm walking with a cane.



Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!

Happy birthday to my wonderful Mother, who turns 72 years young today!!!

She's in Florida right now…enjoying the sunshine and warmth and easy living…I don't think there's a day that's gone by recently where she hasn't called me and said, "Thank you SO much for introducing us to Fort Myers!" - because, as you know, I am first and foremost an EXPERT on all-things Florida and Fort Myers-related. I'm starting to think that wintering in sunny southern Florida is going to extend her life by another twenty years…which could be pretty awesome.

She's always been a pretty cool mom. She taught us early on to be strong…to be independent…and to go after life with gusto and passion. She set the bar pretty high while we were growing up, and my siblings and I learned pretty quickly that we did NOT want to disappoint Mom…either with our actions, our grades, or our words. We were given the tools to make our own decisions, and we were also given the grace to learn from our mistakes, and deal with the consequences, which I think is a fantastic lesson to pass on to all of our children.

Mom's always had a way of making people feel comfortable, and I like to think that she's passed that down to me. She has always been gracious to everyone visiting her home - young and old - and she has a knack of putting people at ease. I remember never being embarrassed at bringing my friends home from school to introduce them to my folks, as my folks were "cool."

She's not perfect…she drives me CRAZY with her incessant need to constantly move furniture around, even in my OWN home…but I guess that's what makes her human and lovable. She also seems to have a strange and weird obsession, bordering on "hoarding", of earrings. I don't think I've ever seen her wear the same pair twice. It's rather interesting, as my daughter seems to have inherited every trait that my mother possesses…making me somewhat of a "sandwich" between the two generations. This could be a bad thing, if I didn't love my Mom so much…or my daughter, for that matter.

Anyways, happy birthday, Mom! We are looking forward to flying down to Florida this weekend to see you and Dad, and to enjoy that gluten-free dinner you're preparing for us Saturday night. Maybe we'll pick up some ice cream from the Love Boat, and we'll make a belated birthday party of it.

We love you - and miss you!