Cute Cali Crannies

IMG_2715Over the past couple of weeks, I have explored some new nooks n’ crannies here in Southern California. Specifically, I saw Potato Chip Rock and San Juan Capistrano!

I experienced the former because I had friends visiting from Nebraska. You would think that visitors from the landlocked Midwest would want to see the beach in the dead of summer, but no! These athletic types wanted a hike..and a challenging hike, to boot. I had long wondered about Potato Chip Rock, but I will admit that I had no idea how strenuous it was actually going to be. Let’s just say that climbing 1100 feet into the air (and 2 miles of actual feet on the ground) was more than I bargained for, particularly under a full sun bearing down at 90 degrees. Continue reading

The Land Down Undah

Chuck has deployed for the Marine Corps three times now. The first two deploymentsIMG_1168 were to exotic Afghanistan, and no family leave was permitted. His third deployment is to Australia, and although his situation is vastly different (safer) than prior deployments, I still didn’t anticipate that he would have a leave block.

But he did indeed receive two weeks of leave halfway through the six-months assignment, and after much time/money/energy-based indecision, I booked a flight to go visit him. I’m so glad I did! Continue reading

Laissez le Bon Temps Roulez!

IMG_0606New Orleans had been on my bucket list for a while. Despite living (and not even working) in Georgia for nearly seven months, I never made it over there. I loved Savannah and Charleston, so given NOLA’s French influence and notorious pulsating energy – combined with the southern hospitality, architecture, and cuisine I had already grown to love – I knew I had to check it out someday. Continue reading

Asia Farewell Tour: Laos

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You know when you see photos of beautiful places on Pinterest or Instagram or wherever, and then you go to visit those places yourself and they’re certainly still beautiful, but not as striking as the heavily enhanced shots you saw on social media? Well, Luang Prabang, Laos is not one of those places. It is every bit as breathtaking as you would imagine, and it was by far my favorite stop on our Indochina itinerary. Continue reading

Asia Farewell Tour: Cambodia

IMG_0387It’s perhaps a bit misleading to entitle this post as though we toured Cambodia, because in reality, we only visited Siem Reap. I knew we couldn’t leave Asia without seeing one of the world’s greatest wonders, Angkor Wat. Despite is reputation for being overwhelmed with tourists, nearly everyone we spoke with said it was worth visiting anyway. I took them at their word and booked the flight from Ho Chi Minh City so we could spend two full days in this city of temples. Continue reading

Asia Farewell Tour: Vietnam

IMG_8971_20170505180224This was the trip I never thought would actually happen. Chuck was away all of January, and we had no idea when exactly the Marines would schedule us to leave Okinawa. As soon as we got our orders, however, Chuck said with determined enthusiasm: “Let’s figure out your last week at work and book this trip!”

Unaccustomed to him being the eager one in planning these adventures, I hit up TripAdvisor and started booking Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos: our final Asian adventure.  Continue reading

Okinawa: Eating Our Way Through the Last Stretch

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Cafe Pipineo is about 10 minutes from my apartment and serves the most luscious cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had my whole life.

Welp! We are just about 6 weeks from our presumed rotation date, and the Marines still haven’t given us orders for the next assignment. Never mind that pretty much everyone else in our lives knows where they are going. Chuck and I are masters of the “hurry up and wait” philosophy, at this point. That said, I continue to assume that we will depart Okinawa this spring. With our time here drawing to a close, I am hoping we can squeeze a few more adventures into our remaining weeks – however big or small.

One thing I will surely miss are the darling cafés that dot the island.  They typically offer just 2-4 menu items at any given time, which sounds limiting but actually ensures a more memorable culinary experience. Of course, the ingredients are always fresh and local, and the décor is consistently unique and charming.

I won’t mind having more options (especially vegetarian and/or gluten free) when I return to the States, but I don’t know what I’ll do without a hearty guarantee of savory Japanese curry, garnished with local vegetables known to bless Okinawans with the longest lifespans on the planet.…  Continue reading