USA

TURTLES AT LANIAKEA BEACH

Swimming with turtles was high on my things-to-do-in-Hawaii list.

I had looked into a few specifically turtle spotting boat trips but then one day while walking along Laniakea Beach in Haleiwa, we found 'em in the wild. 

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We were so enthralled by our first spotting that we sat next to it for a solid hour gently poking at it, whispering "Look at it's eye!", "Touch it's tail and see what it does!" and being generally annoying human tourists. 

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 Not dead. I swear. Only looks dead. Very much alive.

Not dead. I swear. Only looks dead. Very much alive.

Technically, you aren't supposed to touch the turtles (we didn't see the sign until after our first turtle... and then we ignored it) BUT HOW COULD YOU NOT TOUCH THESE MASSIVE INCREDIBLE PRE-HISTORIC LOOKING BEINGS.

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Walking along the beach, we spotted more and more washed upon the shore. And then we came back day after day, to swim with them in the ocean. 

 We named this one Tezza. 

We named this one Tezza. 

 Haleiwa Beach Park

Haleiwa Beach Park

So, if you ever find yourself on the island of the Oahu... skip the $80 "swim with the turtles" boat tour and just hang with them at Laniakea Beach. 

HALEIWA, HAWAII

Haleiwa (a little town on Hawaii's North Shore) is the surfing capital of the world. Known for the giant, insane pipeline waves (yes, like Blue Crush) it's a surfing mecca. We were there in the off-season so unfortunately, it was relatively flat but still beautiful. 

The small community dates back to the 1900's and the architecture in the main town looks slightly old-westy with brightly colored, saloon-style buildings.

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 Food trucks galore.

Food trucks galore.

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In Haleiwa, the one long road that hugs the coast is the only way in and out so no matter where you drive, you have the bright blue ocean on one side and tropical flowers lining the sandy road on the other.  

AROUND THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN KAILUA

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Kailua is a mostly residential area with only one commercial district on the main road. The neighborhood seemed to be quite a tight community, every person I passed on morning hikes said a genuine hello which as a cold Bostonian, I found startling -- but also nice. 

Strolling back and forth to the beach each day, palm trees lined every road and I trailed behind snapping photos of the bright flowers, neon sunsets and tropical houses. I eased right into the calm, tropical vibe of Kailua and now want to go back ASAP. 

KAILUA, HAWAII

Kailua was a sleepy beach town until Obama blew up it's spot with his annual vacations while he was in office. He was born in Honolulu, but Kailua became his (like San Clemente became Nixon's) during his Presidency.

After visiting, I can certainly understand why he chose it, as the beaches in Kailua are -- hands down -- the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen in my entire life. And I've seen some beaches. 

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Usually after arriving on a beach, I take a minute to enjoy the scenery before:

a) jumping in the water

b) diving into a book or

c) falling asleep for a nap

....but after setting up on Kailua Beach I just sat there and looked around, in awe, for a solid 60-90 minutes. It's just astonishingly beautiful. These photos don't even do it justice, they're legit garbage compared to what it really looks like in real life. 

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 We took runs and hikes up the  Lanikai Pillboxes  for full views of the coast.

We took runs and hikes up the Lanikai Pillboxes for full views of the coast.

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 Pitaya smoothie from Kalipawai Market. 

Pitaya smoothie from Kalipawai Market. 

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Kailua Beach sits right next to Lanikai Beach. Both have the softest white sand and water so blue it brings the Leader of The Free World back every year.

SANDY BEACH

On the South Shore of Oahu, Sandy Beach is a lovely sunrise spot with a powerful shore break that made for good body surfing. Getting clobbered by waves is always an effective way to wake up. 

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 Cold brew coffee, pineapple and wifi... what more could you want.

Cold brew coffee, pineapple and wifi... what more could you want.

 Hawaiian chicks.

Hawaiian chicks.

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Post-swim, I'd drink a cold brew provided by the rustic road-side coffee cart and watch photographers with massive lenses (in the water!) trying to get the perfect shot of a barrel.

Sandy Beach is a great way to start the day.  

OAHU, HAWAII

In September, I traveled to Hawaii for a wedding and spent 2 weeks exploring the island of Oahu. I found Hawaii to be so excellent that it made me prouder to be an American (which can be tough at times, these days), knowing this beautiful tropical gem is part of my country. 

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 Immediately after landing, we picked up our rental car and drove to a beach in Honolulu for an inaugural dip.  

Immediately after landing, we picked up our rental car and drove to a beach in Honolulu for an inaugural dip.  

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 Diamond Head Crater.

Diamond Head Crater.

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 Waikiki by night. 

Waikiki by night. 

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 I found a lost dog wandering around in the dark in Waikiki, promptly fell in love, gave her a bath, got her a new outfit and began planning how I could take her home to Boston (You can pack a small dog on Delta, FYI). Long story short, I eventually (and begrudgingly) reunited her with her owner but I was THISCLOSE to finally owning a dog and already had a shortlist of Hawaiian names picked out for her. Her real name is "Penny" but I think she looks more like a "Aliikai" (Hawaiian for "Queen of the Sea"). 

I found a lost dog wandering around in the dark in Waikiki, promptly fell in love, gave her a bath, got her a new outfit and began planning how I could take her home to Boston (You can pack a small dog on Delta, FYI). Long story short, I eventually (and begrudgingly) reunited her with her owner but I was THISCLOSE to finally owning a dog and already had a shortlist of Hawaiian names picked out for her. Her real name is "Penny" but I think she looks more like a "Aliikai" (Hawaiian for "Queen of the Sea"). 

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For the first 2 nights, we stayed in an Honolulu AirBnB surrounded by misty mountains in the Aina Haina Valley. Jetlagged, we would wake up at sunrise and get an early hike in before hitting the beach.

I liked Hawaii so much it actually made me a morning person. 

MAGGIE ROGERS IN BURLINGTON, VERMONT

 Maggie Rogers at  Higher Ground

Maggie Rogers at Higher Ground

 Mojitos and post-show Jazz at  Radio Bean

Mojitos and post-show Jazz at Radio Bean

 Gingerbread house AirBnB

Gingerbread house AirBnB

Last summer I stumbled across this video then proceeded to listen to Alaska over and over and over again through the fall.

Then one night at 2 AM in January I bought a single ticket to a Monday night Maggie Rogers show in Burlington, Vermont because her first tour wasn't stopping anywhere near Boston.  

I woke up the next morning with the kind of vague regret that usually only accompanies heavy champagne consumption (the $12 ticket seemed like a bit of rash purchase as she had only released 2 songs at that point). Nevertheless, I packed a bag that Monday morning and drove 3 hours in the snow to Burlington. 

Going to a show by yourself is kind of like a weird form of meditation. You find yourself standing quite still (as to not bump into anyone to avoid polite conversation), very mindful as to what is going on around you (like noticing how the kids in Burlington get dressed up for a night out in what I would wear snow-shoeing) and quietly reflecting back on the last time you were in this situation (Fall 2004, early Freshman year, at a tiny John Legend show in a BC basement class room. I barely had any friends at that point and none of them had ever heard of John Legend). 

To my relief, her set consisted of more than 2 songs and her modesty ("I feel like new artists shouldn't really play an encore. The Rolling Stones should play an encore but not me") and enthusiasm ("Oh my god, thank you all so much for coming! This is the biggest crowd we've ever had! Well, I've ever had. My band has played a lot more shows than me. This is only my 5th show. Thank you so much!") was sweet and genuine.

She was also amazing live. It was definitely worth the drive. 

The rest of my time in Burlington consisted of coffee shop hopping (Uncommon Grounds is good for people watching and Muddy Waters is like dining in a tree house) scoring a signed copy of Maria Semple's Today Will Be Different at Crow Bookshop and talking politics and watching Trevor Noah with my AirBnB host. 

It was a great winter trip to Vermont.

 

P.S. Maggie Rogers now has an EP out, called Now That the Light is Fading, if you'd like to check it out. It has 5 (!) songs on it. And her new US and European tours are selling like hotcakes. Go if you can. 

NAUSHON ISLAND

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My friend Ari lives and works on Naushon Island, a private island just off of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. A bunch of us took the ferry over for a cozy weekend full of Ari's cooking and general goodness.

He's missed on the mainland but island life seems to suit him. Plus, it's always nice to have an excuse to visit a place that has a population of 30 people. 

APPLE PICKING

Jess and I entered full on, basic-bitches-in-fall mode for a morning of Apple picking at Smolak Farms in North Andover.

We went so late in the season that we were the only ones in the orchard but we fully immersed ourselves in the autumnal spirit with hot apple cider, apple cider donuts and bags of apples which I had big plans for (apple sauce! apple crumble! apple pie!) but then just ate raw over the next month because honestly, who has time for that. 

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 These boots were in no way practical for the occasion but they perfectly matched my hat which was just begging to visit an apple orchard. Look at that hat. Where else was I gonna wear that hat.    

These boots were in no way practical for the occasion but they perfectly matched my hat which was just begging to visit an apple orchard. Look at that hat. Where else was I gonna wear that hat.