Aloha to Hawaii, I’ll Miss You So… Saying GoodBye In Photos

Aloha Beautiful Hawaii! 

aloha rainbow state!

good ole wackiness from my first ever trip to hawaii, back in 2009

Saying goodbye to paradise was harder than I thought it was going to be.  This next step of life is so exciting and wonderful, and trust me: I’m blessed, happy to be where I am physically, emotionally, and everything – this point in life is good.

honeymoon at turtle bay, an amazing time

Our life in Hawaii was extreme, we saw great times and faced challenges.  We reunited there after deployments, but it’s also the place from which we had to say good bye.  We spent sun kissed afternoons out on the water, luxurious days at Turtle Bay, fun evenings out and about… it’s where we said “I do,” and it’s where we found the apple of our eye – our sweet pooch JJ Duggan!

our wedding day

exchanging vows on kailua beach, we did our wedding our way and it was so perfect for us

me and the sweet lil’ pooch, oh i’m so glad we found him in hawaii

It’s also where I’ve battled some health issues, it’s where we suffered a great loss when we experienced our miscarriage, coping through a lonely and hard deployment that was tossed at us without much warning.  But through it all, we came out on top, our marriage was bonded tighter and stronger – so we’ll take with us the happy sunny sweet tropical memories and get ready for a clean slate as we wipe away and move past some of life’s tougher trials.

saying goodbye before a deployment

saying hello when he comes back home again! ahhh, the reunion kiss is always the best.

I’m excited to be in New York and starting this next phase of our lives.  We’re literally writing the first page of a new chapter.  Matthew is out of the Marine Corps and he’s now a civilian, we’ve left Hawaii and moved to New York.  We’re setting out on our own, together.  Duggs was already established in the USMC and living in Hawaii when I came out and joined him – this is a step we’re taking together, going through it all hand in hand.

So yes, I’m stoked to be here in New York…

But I’m going to genuinely miss Hawaii.  I just wanted to take a little post to reflect on the gorgeous aina paradise and really say Aloha.

aloha to paradise, i’ll miss the warm pacific oh so much

we had so much fun boating and out in the hawaiian sun – too much fun to be had every hawaiian day

Hawaii is the kind of place where everywhere you go, there’s an epic view and a breath-taking scene to just suck in and fill yourself with.  The lush mountains, rainbows, flowers, the amazing bright blue oceans and the warm buttery sun bathing all of us.  Hawaii really is this vibrant, happy, relaxed paradise and I am so incredibly blessed to have lived there and spent the time there I was able to.

horseback riding on the north shore, romantic and something i’ll never forget. a truly one of a kind experience.

this island is incredible, i could take a million pics and still wish i had more

When family and old friends came out to visit, we were able to have an awesome time with them in Hawaii – showing off our island home.  I made some amazing friends and connections in Hawaii, Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay refreshed and renewed my faith and my love of Christ.

sky diving day in the fall of 2010 – duggs, me, anna (my sister), and brian (duggs’ all time bff)

hope chapel women’s retreat 2011 – arise and shine!

L.O.V.E. HCKB Women’s Retreat 2012

me and ashtan and her navy day ball!

haunted lagoon 2011 at the polynesian cultural center, with ashtan + me

girl’s hiking morning at makapuu lighthouse, while all of our hubbies were deployed we made the best of it!

hope chapel k-bay is where i so found my heart for God – this past christmas was so awesome, here i am in between mel and tami!

The military experience is one that we’ll always remember.  Me as a spouse and Duggs as a dutiful member of the United States Marine Corps.  His service is the whole reason we were ever in Hawaii.  Even though the USMC liked to throw wrenches in our plans all the time, I have the utmost respect for the branch and the military in general. I’m grateful for the hard and brave work those dedicated men and women do, and I’m so proud to be married to a man as nobel as a Marine.

our first usmc ball together, in 2010

I tried to pick a couple photos to sum up my amazing Hawaiian experience, the wonderful times I’ve spent in paradise.  And yeah, it was impossible.  So thus… here’s a crazy montage of pics as a way for me to say Aloha!

I’ll miss Hawaii so very much.  I hope that we’ll be able to visit again one day, and hopefully it won’t be too far in the future that we get to go back.  Until then, I’ll take my mainland life one day at a time and find new beautiful sights to oooh and aaah over, I’ll discover new favorite places and I’m sure Duggs and I will forge tons of new memories and create lots of new adventures, all with stories to tell.  But as we do, I take some little pieces of Hawaii with me always – the sea turtle tattoo I got on my first trip to the island, the wedding ring on my hand that will always make me think of Kailua’s soft sandy beach, and the thousands of memories forever etched into my heart.

Aloha Hawaii – I’ll love you always! 

pretty islands (photo credit here)

And to my readers, I thank you (as always) for reading! xoxo, hhr

Ringing in 2012

Happy New Year, everyone!

i found this random image, but it could be hawaii!

After the whirlwind and chaos of Christmas, the Duggs and I had a totally chill and awesome New Year’s weekend.  He surprised me with plans and a dinner rez, and it was just an awesome, quiet, cozy way for us to re-set, refresh and get ready to face a brand new year.

First, we went boating!  On Friday of the long weekend, we took out a Boston Whaler and went boating out on K-bay.

leaving the wake behind us like it's 2011. (is that cheesy enough?)

It was so sunny when we first went out, a totally gorgeous day.


i heart k-bay, and the 360 pretty views

Being out in the sun, swimming, playing with the pooch (because it was low tide and he could gallop/prance around like an antelope) – it was all so calming.  I’m so ocean-oriented, that just being out on the water seems to always cure what ails me.

It was just the antithesis of Christmas-craziness, and it felt so good.

When we got home, a bouquet of flowers was waiting for me! Thank you, Duggs, you’re such a thoughtful husband.

special delivery

The next night, New Year’s Eve, we went out to Roy’s in Waikiki.  They had a set menu, with special fare just for New Years and it was SO. GOOD.  Just amazing.  We ate crab, lobster, freshly baked lavosh, I had butterfish and mahi for my entre, Duggs had lamb, and for dessert they had fresh strawberry malasadas, strawberry mochi balls with sweet basil ice cream in the middle, and ginger soda with champagne sorbet floats.  I mean, it was so good. I love food.

Oh.  AND they had funny hats and tiaras for everyone to wear.  It was so cute! We had such a nice time on our dinner date, talking about our favorite 2011 moments.

After dinner, we headed over to The Tanner’s house, where some people were celebrating.  We literally walked in the door at 11:58, and just made the countdown!  I shared a happy New Year’s smooch with Duggs, and we had a toast with a ton of pals!

It was an awesome weekend.  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!


as always, thanks for reading! oxox, hhr

manoa falls hike with the hubs and the pooch: hot august mud baths for all!

August 27, 2010: Manoa Falls Trail + Aihulama Trail + Pauoa Flats Trail

We went hiking this past weekend at Manoa Falls and we had a super blast!  It was so much fun.

We’ve done this trail before, and it’s becoming a favorite of our’s.  It’s very shaded and cool, muddy, and if you take the Aihulama Trail up to the Pauoa Flats Trail, you can get a workout in for sure!  We did lots of trail running, and in some parts the steepness + mud = enough or a workout.  My legs were tight/sore for a day or two afterwards.

The short hike from the parking lot to the Falls is easy, crowded, muddy, and fun.  I say it’s easy because it’s a very well set trail, that’s very public.  But, it can be slippery due to the mud.  We saw older folks with canes doing it, but that kinda worried me!  The fall and slipping potential seems high.  Otherwise, it’s an easy trail! We brought JJ, our 30-lb doggie, along for the hike and he had a great ole time. Very muddy.

The parts of the trail that go past the falls, well that’s a different story.  That’s when the difficulty level pics up!  Jumping over rocks and logs, roots and lots of mud, puddles, and steep inclines. In some places the trail gets super narrow, and it can be kinda scary (there are steep drop offs to one side).  But it’s very shaded, and the higher you go – the prettier the views are!

In an email to a friend, here’s what I had to say:

It’s a GREAT hike to do!  Very muddy, has great views, and it can be pretty challenging if you go all the way up… and you get a bit of everything: waterfalls, bamboo forests, strawberry guava trees, rainforest, zig-zags up the mountain (and eventually back down), huge tree roots, rocky paths, puddles!  And an awesome lookout at the top, with some beautiful views that peek out here and there along the way.  It’s like a sampler platter, you get a taste of everything!


Now, because I’m lazy… here’s just a big blob of pics from last Saturday of Me, Duggs, and our Pooch JJ hiking!  Notice how muddy we all got, whew:


Directions: Just use your GPS to get you to the Lyon Arboretum: 3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu

Note: You can park at the Arboretum for free, but the time we tried to do that, the people working there were total jerks to us!  You have to check into a log, they press you for a donation anyways, and they claim that there’s no dogs allowed there.  But on the Trails, you can totally have dogs.  They’re a pain.

So use your GPS to go to Lyon.  The trail head is right by there!  You’ll be on a really residential road, Manoa Road.  But stay on Manos road and go past all the houses and follow it up this hill that’s kinda twisty.  You’ll pass under this walking bridge that connects the forest to a Chinese Food restaurant (I think it’s called “Tree Top” or something like that).  Right past the restaurant is a dirt lot that usually has attendants who charge $5 for parking.  We’ve just done that every time.  It’s safe and easy.  And bonus!  They’ve recently added these awesome hoses and brushes anyone can use to get the mud off of you after your hike.  Yay!

The Trail Head is a short walk from the parking lot, it’s very easy to see and you should see lots of people coming and going anyways.  It’s a popular trail for sure!

Some info on the Trails we got from other sites:

  1. The Aihualama Trail begins at Manoa Falls, skirts the upper end of Manoa Valley, then heads steeply up to Pauoa Flats and a stunning overlook. The route passes through groves of bamboo, koa, eucalyptus and enormous banyan trees. The are great views across the valley to Waikiki and Diamond Head. From the Nuuanu Overlook at the trail ’s end are panoramic vistas overlooking the Nuuanu Valley and the rugged Koolau Mountains.  Read more at Aihualama Trail to Nuuanu Overlook | Honolulu Hawaii Hikes | Trails.com




hiking and yoga, pillbox in lanikai

Friday, April 29th, 2011 – Lanikai, O’ahu, Hawai’i – PILLBOX HIKE

warrior pose to the pacific ocean. so awesome.

Climbing and Stretching 

Carlita, Sydney and I had a super fun morning about a week ago.  We hiked the Pillbox trail overlooking Lanikai Beach and when we got to the first “pillbox,” Sydney, a new graduate from Gaia Flow Yoga in Dallas, led us in a nice yoga flow (concrete lookout buildings line this ridge and their small, white, stature have earned the trail the nickname “pillbox”).

Carly and I have been on this awesome tourist mission to stay busy while our husbands are deployed by seeing as much of the island as we can: hiking, snorkeling, swimming and exploring.   Now our friend Sydney (whose fiance is deployed with Carly’s husband) has just moved to the aina and she’s eager to explore and sight-see too.   The three of us make a great team with our easy-going personalties happily meshing.

By the way, if you’ve ever been curious to know more about these gal pals of mine that I make mention of so frequently, check out their blogs!

Back to actually talking about the Pillbox Yoga day:  We didn’t really wake up too early for this one.  We did it a little bit after the sun came up, maybe around eight in the morning or so.  The hike itself is pretty light, but still fun!   We packed our yoga mats in our backpacks so we could use our hands for the steeper parts of the hike (or just to be handsfree, because handsfree is the best).

me, getting out of the car*

sydney and carly at the trailhead

it is a little steep at the get-go

Luckily the trail wasn’t very crowded at all.  We saw a couple random people, but we didn’t have to compete for space or anything.   This hike is pretty popular for the people who live nearby- lots of folks run up the trail or walk their dogs here.  So we totally lucked out in regards to it being sparsely populated that day.  The weather was really mild as well, so being out in the morning sun felt nice, not too hot.  The whole tone was just so right.

the lanikai islands in the early morning light

super close up of me, the girls in the background climbing higher and higher

some cute friends we met on the path. if we weren't doing yoga i would have brought my pooch. aww man!

it's so amazing that we live here. like, woah!

i ❤ hawaii. this place is so beautiful.

i love the yoga mats, tie dye, waterbottles, awesome scenery... this is just soooo "us"

Once we got to the “pillbox,” we literally hoisted ourselves up there and set up shop.  I don’t think I’d ever done outdoor yoga before.  It was really fun, but there are some weird little things you don’t think about it until you go through it.  The surface we were on was flat-ish.  It had lots of slopes and divits, and it was hard to find a nice even spot to put out a mat on.  And because of the nature of yoga, if you aren’t on a flat surface – you gotta be careful not to hurt yourself.  Luckily we’re all super-not-clumsy and we were, of course, extremely safety-oriented and cautious.

Being so exposed and by the ocean, it was windy up there; we were using everything we could to hold down out mats.  And even then they tried to fly away from us a couple times.  Don’t worry- we were super fast and suffered no loss of equipment.

I’m joking about the little bumps that came up… but really, outdoor yoga is awesome.  It’s just so pure and natural and simple.  I want to keep doing it, that’s for sure.

yeah girl, get on up there

oh hay! you too, go up there!

my little backpack is on the top of the world


taking it all in. this world God made for us is just the most perfect artwork.*

me and carly. she's probably sassing me*

don't they look like the two islands?

these two islands!

Sydney is a lovely yoga instructor.  The only real class I’ve been going to this year is the one on base with the same instructor all the time – so it was nice to mix it up and do a flow in a slightly different way (because every instructor is different).

I didn’t get any pics of us actually doing our yoga practice.  I get really focused on those breathes and the poses, and stepping out to snap pics would have killed my zone.  But, afterwards, we did have some fun trying to do different poses and stretching.  And we met a random guy (Jimmy) who was running the trail and he took some pics for us.  So rad!

i don't know the name of the pose sydney's doing, but it looks hard and fancy!

my carly has mad skills

sydney teaching jimmy a new way to stretch

headstand! awesome!

sydney is stronger than she looks, huh? impressive. *

carlita is graceful *

ooh look, i can play too. my wheel. it's getting better, huh? *

being bendy *

yeah, i'm not really close on this one at all. but i'll get there. now i have another goal to work toward! *

messing around and doing the world's worst chair pose. i really am just joking around and being dumb*

We did a couple group shots and Jimmy graciously took them for us.  I like the way they came out.  I know I’m not nearly on the yogi level of Carly or Sydney, but I try and that’s all that matters:

i love everything about this *

being dorky and silly *

After we got down the mountain, we went into Kailua Town and ate at Aloha Salads.  Oh man. I love Aloha Salads.   If/when I leave here, it’s one of the top five eateries I’ll miss the most.  It’s a chain that’s only out here, they serve big salads made of local ingredients.  After being so nice to my body by hiking and stretching, it just feels good to eat something light, simple, and healthy – ya know?

oh yum


It was such an awesome morning, a really great way to just re-set my intentions of being good to myself, appreciating my surrounding, and just having fun while being active.

Oh.  The pics with the asterisks are ones I stole from Sydney’s facebook album from this day.  That’s all.  ALOHA!



I may have skipped over one teensy detail in this retelling… I slipped on the way down.  For your viewing pleasure:

graceful as always

Now it’s really the end.

haiku stairs (aka: “stairway to heaven”)

February 11, 2011 : Kaneohe, Hawaii “Stairway to Heaven”

Stairway is the most physically demanding, nerve-wracking, scary, and illegal hike I’ve ever done.  It was also the most awesomest.  For lack of a better word, its epic.

Its a literal metal staircase bolted into the side of the mountain on O’ahu’s windward side.  Island folklore (aka: the interwebs) explains that the stairs were built back in the day by the USCG to access a radio tower at the tippy top of the mountain.  The military use of the tower and stairs are now defunct, and thus the hike is closed to the public.  There’s a security guard who protects the entrance to the stairs, and the only way to do the hike is to show up hours before he does.

So yeah, we did.  By 5:00am we were in the woods of Kaneohe, searching for the start of the staircase.   It was pitch black, and we hiked with flashlights.  We finally hopped a fence around 5:25am, and could see the stairs a few hundred feet away.

The hike itself took us like four hours.  It’s no joke!  The climb is 2,000+ feet, and the whole thing is done on tiny metal stairs six inches apart.  There are almost 4,000 of those suckers.

We did most of the hike up in the dark.  Thank God for the flashlights.  Oh, and the gloves.  The stairs have metal railings along both sides, and we ended up using way more upper body strength than you’d think.  Day break hit as we were coming to the first couple landings.  We missed sunrise at the top by maybe about 20 minutes.  It wasn’t really a bummer though, because once the sun was out, the view from anywhere along the stairs is just incredible.

My legs, back, arms and shoulders were sore for days.  Shit, I’m still sore. Let’s not kid here.

On the way down, we could see the security guard watching us descend.  We got to the bottom and approached him, and he called out, “what have we here? Three more trespassers?”  For about five seconds I thought I was getting a ticket.  Then he started laughing and asking us how the weather at the top was.   Turns out, he’s very hip to the game.  So for anyone interested, don’t fret the legality – just GO EARLY.

The vertical faces of the climb were pretty crazy.  On the way up it was so dark, we had no idea how scary it really was.  Once we were coming down though we could actually see how exposed you are on the hike.  Its probably not a great idea for folks scared of heights.