Sunday, April 15, 2018

Palm Desert Trip 2018

Last year was not complete without our annual trip to Palm Desert, California to visit my dad and his wife at their desert oasis home. So this year, it had to happen! In the end of March, we trekked 15-hours south to Cali for a week of hikes, pool time, margaritas and Mexican food, and quality time with family.

This year, unlike years prior, my brother and grandma were also down there for the first few days of our trip. That made it really fun because we spent a little bit of time in a hotel while my dad's house was full, but we also got to spend some great time with family. We even took my brother for a hike and he got to see a whole new side of the California desert that he had never seen before.

Like our usual trips, every single day consisted of getting a good sweat on at the gym at my dad's country club, hiking for 3-4 hours, delicious lunches out at our favorite Mexican restaurants, some pool time, nap time, or homework time (since we're both in school), and then dinner with the family. The week could not have been more fun, more relaxing, or more needed!

See photos from the trip below.

Hiking the Pushwalla Palms trail at the Coachella Valley Preserve. It was the coldest and windiest day out there, but once the sun finally came out it made for a really nice afternoon. The very top photo in this post is also from the Coachella Valley Preserve. It was my favorite photo that we took the whole trip.

Las Salsas Palm Springs, margaritas
Margaritas after our hike at Salsas. Their margaritas were really affordable and surprisingly strong!

The daily view from Dad & Karen's house.

Ducks at Desert Falls Country Club, Palm Desert
These ducklings were the cutest. They became so friendly and would waddle up to us when we were out on the patio, waiting for snacks!

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Palm Canyon Trail at Indian Springs, East Fork Trail
Hiking the Palm Canyon and East Fork Trail at Indian Canyons. Their trails are probably the most diverse of any of the areas we go to, so we love the variety of the landscape.

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Palm Canyon Trail at Indian Springs, East Fork Trail
East Fork trail at Indian Canyons in Palm Springs.

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Palm Canyon Trail at Indian Springs, East Fork Trail
We made it to the end! We got a little lost on our hike through Indian Canyons and gave my brother a longer hike than what he bargained for. We made up for it afterward with margaritas and nachos. Boom!

Learning to play tennis at the Palm Desert Country Club. I need some work!

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Murray Trail to Seven Sisters Waterfalls at Indian Springs
Hiking the Murray Trail to the Seven Sisters Waterfalls at Indian Canyons. We hadn't made it the entire way last time we did it, so this time was a success!

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Murray Trail to Seven Sisters Waterfalls at Indian Springs, Rosy Boa snake
We found a rosy boa on the Murray Trail at Indian Canyons. What a friendly snake. She was just hanging out on the walking path, so we stopped to take her off to a safer spot.

Indian Canyon hiking Palm Springs, Murray Trail to Seven Sisters Waterfalls at Indian Springs
Hiking the Henderson Loop trail in Palm Springs. We love that trail, it's very desert-like and hardly ever busy.

Enjoying the best Chiles Gueritos California has to offer. This was at our favorite Mexican spot, Armandos.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail South and Canyon Loop at Whitewater Preserve in Palm Springs. Their elevation changes and wildflowers are always the most difficult to hike but beautiful to look at.

Sitting on top of the Canyon Loop trail at Whitewater Preserve.

It's crazy to hike in 80+ degree weather at Whitewater Preserve and to see snow in the California mountains ahead.

Delicious veggie enchilada and chiles rellenos at Las Casuelas Nuevas. We love our Mexican Food!

Well that's the tip of the iceberg for this year's trip, but it's a little snapshot into all the fun we had. The photos and videos (video diary to come!) always help us to reminisce and look back on our trips with such fondness. They also make us crave a return trip as soon as possible!

Check out all our past Palm Desert & California trips here!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Aunie Sauce, a personal reflection of 2017

To say that I'm glad it's 2018 would be an understatement. 2017 was one of my most challenging, testing years I've had thus far. It was a wonderful year, don't get me wrong, but I experienced many things that I never anticipated ever happening to me and the promise of a new, fresh year is just the reassurance I need right now.

I haven't written a post like this in quite some time. This blog has been primarily travel and military related for the last couple years. However, sometimes I just need to vent, and this blog was my primary intended outlet for that.

The past couple years have seemed to be a whirlwind. When Daniel and I celebrated our fifth anniversary this past December, we couldn't believe how fast time had flown by. Spending almost half of 2017 away from him for training didn't help that either, but we were able to work through that just fine.

It's the moments in 2017 that I didn't blog about that made the biggest difference. I'm inclined to say that this last year tested my faith in God—though looking back, it actually only made it stronger. I would not have made it through 2017 without God's grace, his forgiveness, his protection, and his help to move forward after some disheartening and paralyzing points in time.

I could have chosen to not journal about this, to pretend like none of it happened and to go on with a smile on my face, exhibiting the upbeat, fun-loving personality most people know to expect from me. But this—the last year—it just held some times that while painful, I don't want to forget. I experienced some of my happiest moments of my life in 2017. I also experienced some of the most crushing. Times like this help make me who I am, and while I'm not going into detail, 2017 changed my life.

It's easy to move past the things that are hard to talk about, the things that make you cry when you least expect it, the things that only you and a handful of people know. Those things, like secrets, can be so easily forgotten if you allow yourself to erase them from your life's pages. But though some of those memories bring tears to my eyes and make me want to just sit on the couch and cry in desperation, they're now part of me, and forgetting them doesn't help. Rejoicing in God's good grace and the blessings he has provided does.

In 2017, I moved past something that has had a suffocating grasp on me for years. I achieved a full-time job with the Idaho Air National Guard, my current dream job. I dedicated myself to being a better, more supportive wife than I'd ever been. I took a trip to Hawai'i that I'd been dreaming about for five years. I finished my first graduate class in pursuit of a Masters in Management with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. All that to say... I also made poor decisions. I had to give up (temporarily, I hope) my favorite hobby—running—due to injuries that won't heal and require extensive surgery to repair. I experienced a heartache that I never even knew was possible. And now, looking back, I am just so grateful that I am where I am today, and that I'm able to face each new day with a positive outlook and hopes for the future.

Yes, this is vague. It's supposed to be. This post is for me, a placeholder, to remind myself that I'm stronger than the world around me because God and the love from those closest to me makes me brave, fierce, and a fighter. If I crumbled under the pressure and sadness I experienced, I would not be able to be where I am today, or be able to pursue the purpose for why I'm here in the first place—to which I'm still attempting to learn along the way.

Monday, December 25, 2017


Walgreens custom Christmas cards, Rowe Christmas 2017

Love ♥ The Rowes and all our blessings over the past year & dreams for the future

P.S. Thank you so much for visiting this page to read my blog. I can't put into words how much it means to me.

Past Christmas cards: 2011 │ 20122013201420152016

Monday, December 18, 2017

Maui Dreamin'

Hamoa Beach, Maui

What's a better way to celebrate a five-year anniversary than on the sandy shores of Maui? After taking this vacation, I don't think anything could have beat it.

Daniel and I have talked about this vacation since we first met in 2011. We have both been to Maui separately, and we always talk about how it's our favorite place to go. It was time we vacationed there together! We booked our tickets the week of Thanksgiving and spent the first two weeks of December basking in the Hawaiian sun.

Knowing us, of course we made use of every spare minute of our vacation. We were up before the sun rose each day, walking or jogging along the coastline, then filling our bellies at our hotel's breakfast buffet (the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel), and heading off every morning to enjoy a new beach or "must-do" on the island.

We ended up visiting ten different beaches, snorkeling eight beaches, eating all the fresh fish we could find, scouting the best happy hours on the island, and spending absolutely as much time soaking up the Hawaiian life we dream about so often.

See some of the photos and stories of our trip below!

Black Sand Beach, Makena Landing, Maui

We rented snorkel gear, chairs, and a boogie board from The Snorkel Store. Their staff was absolutely awesome, and they gave us an easy-to-read map with all their best spots for snorkeling detailed and specified to what we were looking for. Their map often lead us south to Kihei or Wailea, which had the best conditions during the weeks we were there.

The photo above was from one of the eight beaches we snorkeled--the Black Sand Beach, which is just north of Makena State Park and south of Wailea. The current was heavy the day we were there, but we saw plenty of their reef life, including a huge moray eel.

Hawaiian Ocean Project Lanai Trip, Lanai Snorkel Trip, Maui

On our third day in Maui, we took to the seas with the Hawaii Ocean Project and cruised on a day trip to Lanai. Daniel and I had both snorkeled Molokini during our past trips to Hawaii, so this time we opted for something new. Our crew was a seasoned group of guides and they were fantastic, and we also lucked out with a smaller tour group that day with about 20 people who were all middle-aged. It was very different than most of the other boats we saw setting sail that had 100+ people and 50+ kids in their groups.

We set out for Lanai early in the morning, the trip lasting just a little over an hour. Along the way, we spotted humpback whales in the distance, a bottlenose dolphin that came to check out our boat, and a pod of over 50 spinner dolphins that were hungry for some camera time. They ended up circling our boat for a good ten minutes, and I scored some fantastic videos and live photos of the action. The shot above was one of the stills, and I still think it's the best thing I saw the entire trip.

When we arrived at Lanai, we snorkeled at Manele Bay for an hour and then also snorkeled at a remote location called "The Club" for another hour. The coral reefs at The Club were immaculate and the water was so clear. The tour guides said they don't often get to go to that spot due to the weather, so we were so grateful for a beautiful, clear day. The tour also served us breakfast, lunch, and a complimentary cocktail. We both agreed that the Lanai snorkel trip was the best investment we made while on the trip and it was our favorite day overall.

5 Caves Beach, Snorkel 5 Caves, Maui
5 Caves Beach, Snorkel 5 Caves, Maui

The two photos above were taken at 5 Caves in Wailea, just north of Makena Landing and Turtle Town. We first were going to snorkel at Poolenalena Beach, but it was pretty busy so we ventured down the road and ended up at 5 Caves. We had to scale down the rocky beach to get into the water, and we were the only ones in sight. We weren't quite sure if we were even in an actual snorkel spot until we hit the ocean. And let me tell you--it was our favorite spot to snorkel. Within 20 feet of the water's edge, we were greeted by four turtles who were catching their morning reef breakfast. We took a corner and were greeted by five more. The water was absolutely pristine and the conditions could not have been better.

Once we finished snorkeling, we dried off and climbed the rocks around 5 Caves to check out the turtles. They were just hanging out, surfing the waves and enjoying their breakfast. We snagged some very cool photos and hung out for 30 minutes or so before heading off to enjoy margaritas at Fred's Mexican Café. It was the perfect ending to our best day of snorkeling.

Road to Hana, Maui

On our second-to-last day, we did the legendary Road to Hana, taking the winding roads on the northern coast to the remote beaches that Hana is famous for. Along the way, we stopped at viewpoints, waterfalls, and at any location that struck our fancy. It was a really fun day, and very different than all the other days we had spent snorkeling.

Road to Hana, 3 Bears Waterfall, Maui

These were the 3 Bears waterfalls along the Road to Hana. We had to climb down a steep pathway to get up close and personal to these falls, but it was so worth it. Speaking of "falls," I took a pretty good one while trying to climb out of the waterfall area. I totally ate it off of a rock and slid my way down a huge boulder, taking all the skin off of my shin with it. And as a side-story, I also got stung by a black sea urchin in the hand while snorkeling at Ulua Beach in Kihei the day before. I was an accident-prone tourist on this trip!

Road to Hana, Maui

This was on the rocks at Hana Bay Beach Park on the Road to Hana.

Road to Hana, Red Sand Beach, Maui
Road to Hana, Red Sand Beach, Maui

If we did the Black Sand Beach in Wailea, we had to visit the Red Sand Beach at Kaihalulu Beach in Hana. The hike down to it wasn't quite as bad as everyone had let on, but the aquamarine blue water and rich red sand at the end were so worth the trip. We didn't stay at the beach for too long, there were quite a few people there and we'd heard about another amazing beach along the coastline, so we enjoyed the cool water and pebble-filled sand for a bit before heading down the road.

Road to Hana, Hamoa Beach, Maui

Our last stop in Hana was Hamoa Beach, and it was the perfect, picturesque beach we had been hoping for. Many of the beaches in Kihei and Wailea were good for snorkeling but were often busy and not quite as breathtaking as Hamoa. This beach was pretty much deserted and we felt like we had the whole thing to ourselves. The water was sky-blue, the sand was soft and light, and we sat in the sun for a couple hours, just soaking it all in. We are grateful one of the locals we'd met along the Road to Hana told us to visit Hamoa Beach. It was our favorite lounging beach of the trip.

While I didn't share any of the photos of any of our spectacular meals, we sure did dine like kings on the trip. The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel (which we loved by the way for it's affordable prices, friendly staff, easy-going rooms, and prime location on Ka'anapali Beach), had a great breakfast buffet each morning that was more than just your typical Continental Breakfast. It boasted tables filled with all the breakfast food you could imagine, plus local Hawaiian foods and delicacies. We pretty much ate a big breakfast and then a lunch/dinner combo each day, saving room for scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone from Banyan Treat in Lahaina (ice cream is always a staple on our trips). We had the BEST EVER fish tacos at Paia Fish Market in Lahaina, loved the food and atmosphere combo (plus the Lava Lava Shrimp) at Down the Hatch in Lahaina, sipped on the most delicious strawberry margaritas at Fred's Mexican Café in Kihei, and ate the best sushi of our lives at Miso Phat Sushi in Kahana. What's best about all that food was that those places were our top spots, but only about half of what we actually got to enjoy. Let's just say we live with absolutely no food regrets while on vacation. Diet is not a word we even talk about!

Well, after six years of talking about it, we finally did it... we did Maui. And it was the vacation we had dreamed about (and then some). Talk about celebrating our anniversary... we fell even more in love with each other on the trip and we both fell back in love with Maui. We're already talking about wanting to go back, in addition to all the other fun places we'd like to explore, but for now, Maui is at the top of our "favorites" list.

So I'll leave this post with a "See you later, Maui," or as the Hawaiians say, "A hui hou koke iā ʻoe!"

Friday, December 1, 2017

Our Fifth Anniversary

Five years. How does time go by so quickly? You know what I love about us?

We fist-bump it three times, every time.
We don't take many photos... in fact, I have like 10 of us from this year... it's slim-pickins'.
We know all the best happy hours in town.
We are rockin' our careers.
We are saving for our future.
We are cool with cereal for dinner like every single night and there's never an argument about it.
We do the best dance moves with awkward faces.
We do good hugs.
We don't keep up with the Joneses.
We geek out over finances.
We watch sports and Stranger Things and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
We love our baby bearded dragon.
We travel and hike and live for vacations.
We don't say no to pizza or Chipotle or Chick-fil-a.
We don't do fancy cars.
We do long bouts of Scrabble over margaritas until way too late.
We do love leading our church group.
We make mad dashes to DQ for Blizz-dogs right before they close.
We laugh, rewind, and watch parts of movies over and over until our sides hurt.
We keep each other accountable and the trust that's grown because of it is so beautiful.
We don't discriminate with Mexican food. Bring on the chips & salsa & margaritas.
We garden and take care of our yard together.
We plan and dream for the future.
We love loving on each other.
We sing silly songs, "Deck, deck, ba-da-da-ba-dah..."

We do US. And that's what I love. Happy fifth, luh-luhs.

Past Anniversary Posts: Year OneYear TwoYear ThreeYear Four