Next Year’s Mystery Adventure: An Update

237cd67f07b897d3f14fcc00df30116cNo, I’m still not telling where we are going. Anyway, I couldn’t even if I wanted to because Brett now has access to everything I write here!

Except for one remaining activity, everything is set for our trip next spring! Hotel rooms, activities, tours, car and airline tickets have all been taken care of, and for the most part, paid for. Several of these things will pay back dividends that we can use for future travel. I reserved a car through Hawaiian Airlines (the same car at the same low price we would have paid through Costco Travel), so we will earn additional mileage for that. Two of three hotel reservations were done through Expedia, which means big Swagbucks earnings after we complete the trip (because Swagbucks was awarding four times every dollar when I booked the rooms). We have gotten and will be getting more rewards from our credit card.

I am thrilled that I was able to find our airline tickets at the price I wanted. With airline tickets it’s either buy early or buy late for the best price, and I bought early this time because Hawaiian Airlines had tickets at the price I was looking for. I know the price could go possibly go lower between now and when we leave, but then again, as someone I know who works in the industry always says . . . it might not. His advise is to decide how much you want to pay for tickets, and if you find that price go ahead and get them (and then don’t check prices again).

And, as I wrote in an earlier post we are getting three times the rewards from this ticket purchase: Swagbucks from booking through Expedia, Hawaiian Airlines miles, and rewards back from our credit card.

So, what’s left to do? I need to make reservations for one more activity/tour, but other than that all that we need to do is wait until next spring and in the meantime, save, save, save. So far it’s all coming along well though:

  • Rebates, rewards & gifts: Our travel savings is now $0, but our airline tickets and some hotel reservations for the trip (and Brett’s ticket for this fall) are paid for. We do have a regular savings allotment set up that goes into our account every month that will cover remaining expenses by the time we travel. Our credit card reward balance is up to $255 and some change. I’m thinking though that we won’t need to use it toward this trip, so will keep growing the balance for future travel.
  • $1 bills & change: We have nearly $800 saved so far. I am starting to think that we won’t need to use this bit of money either for the mystery trip, so we will just keep saving our $1 bills and change for Brett and my future travel.
  • Christmas money: We had transferred $900 of this into our savings account so it was used for the airline tickets. We will continue to contribute this to savings.
  • Swagbucks: Between Brett and I we have already earned nearly $900 in both Visa card rewards and Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks. And it’s only the end of June! I think we will be able to give the girls, our son and his family a very nice Christmas this year (Brett and I aren’t going to exchange gifts). Besides using Swagbucks for Christmas, I hope to earn enough in Amazon gift cards to buy a new camera before we travel.
  • Hawaiian Airlines miles: Not sure right now of what all our total miles are combined, but it’s getting up there. Brett’s trip in the fall will add more, as will the trip next spring. Later this year we will sign up for the Hawaiian Airlines mileage credit card which will give us a whole lot more miles (35,000 for signing up). By the time WenYu heads off to college we will have more than enough for at least two and maybe more round-trip tickets for her and Meiling.

Finally, here’s another clue on our mystery destination: it’s in the vicinity of somewhere that can be reached on Hawaiian Airlines!

Sunday Afternoon 6/28/2015

The last Sunday in June! While I can’t say it’s been a long month, it certainly hasn’t sped by like others seem to have done this year. And that’s OK, because it’s been a pretty nice month overall. Lots of good things have happened.


Brett and I started another puzzle on Friday, and this one might take a while. It has 1000 pieces like previous puzzles, but they’re smaller and the pattern is just crazy enough (buttons) to make it a bit more challenging than usual. Three new puzzles that I ordered should be arriving this week, and I’m going to pass the ones we’ve finished on to a friend who also loves them (although she will give them back – Brett and I want to do them all again in a while).

Otherwise it’s a lazy Sunday here at Casa Aloha. This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I haven’t read much of anything this weekend because I kept falling asleep every time I picked up my book (All the World We Cannot See). The book is wonderful, but I guess I’ve just been tired.
  • Listening to: The hum of the fans and roosters screaming in the background.
  • Watching: I watched the Ken Burns documentary series Baseball this past week. It was great, and brought back lots of memories. I grew up in a baseball family, and am old enough to remember the Dodgers coming to Los Angeles and how excited everyone was, so that part of the series was especially nostalgic for me. I hoped to start his documentary Jazz last night but it’s not available with Amazon Prime, so I started The Civil War again. Tonight we’re going to watch the movie Big Eyes.
  • Cooking/baking: Brett made a double batch of waffles this morning to use up the last of some sour milk. I have no idea what’s for dinner because I’m not cooking! We’re going to meet up with my cousin and her family somewhere to eat, probably up on the north side of the island.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Besides finding airfares at the price I wanted for our vacation next spring I don’t think I accomplished much of anything this past week other than the usual household stuff. Just one of those weeks, I guess.
  • Looking forward to next week: Hopefully getting to the beach for an afternoon or two. We haven’t been in a while again and I’m craving being out under the umbrella and enjoying the surf and sun. We don’t have anything planned for the Fourth of July other than barbecuing here at home.
  • Thankful for: Ceiling fans and trade winds. The summer heat and humidity are back again, but between the breezes and the fans we’re managing to stay comfortable. When the breezes stop though it can get miserable quickly, even with the fans. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to visit with my cousin after such a long time. We had a nice, long phone conversation the other evening, and I’m looking forward to getting together tonight.
  • Bonus question: Do you remember your dreams? Not really, although the other day I was thinking about these four houses that show up again and again in my dreams. It’s kind of weird, actually. They’re each very distinctive, but show up regularly enough that I can remember them outside of my dreams. Wonder what that means?

How is your day going? Hope you have all had a wonderful week!

Feel Good Friday

There is lots to feel happy about this Friday! 1669954_10204747561755217_2533113883422627430_o

  • I had a terrific, fun lunch on Wednesday with two other mainland “ex-pats” that I met through blogging! Joy and Michelle live up on the north shore, so we met at the gorgeous St. Regis resort in Princeville for lunch and a long visit. Can’t wait to see these women again!
  • My Penzey’s spice order arrived on Wednesday, less than a week after I placed it. The shipping for the order was $11, but included in the order for free was a bag of their taco seasoning ($8.69 value), and when I opened the box there was a small jar of their Greek seasoning ($3.89 value), effectively zeroing out the shipping fee! If you have never purchased from Penzey’s I encourage you to check them out – their spices are top quality and reasonably priced.
  • Brett got his first blog post up – yeah!
  • We have our plane tickets for next spring’s mystery vacation!! Hawaiian airlines had the flights I wanted at the price I wanted so I went ahead and purchased them. Expedia also gave me another discount on one of our hotel stays, saving us an additional $90. The ticket purchase hits the trifecta for me though as far as extras: we’ll get Hawaiian airline miles, reward $$ from our credit card, and Swagbucks from booking the tickets through Expedia.
  • Sluggy over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring has another awesome giveaway. As someone whose toes are exposed every day in my slippahs (flip flops), and who has two teenage daughters, when I see nail polish in a giveaway, I’m in! You can enter once a day until the deadline, and there are ways to earn bonus entries as well.
  • We put $9.57 into the change jar this week. June has been very good to that jar.
  • I earned another $100 gift certificate from Swagbucks.

What things happened for you this week that make you feel good or happy?

Hiking to Makaleha Falls

With my mom at Great Grandpa’s in Bamboo, NC.

Born in northeastern Maryland, the eldest son of emigrants from western North Carolina, trekking came naturally to me. Before I started school, many days were spent in the woods and on farms surrounding our house, as well as playing in and hiking along the nearby creeks. By the time I started first grade, I knew the names of every living thing in those woods and creeks. Since we often visited my parents birthplaces, I learned a great deal from short hikes over portions of the Appalachian Trail, and at 14 years of age, ran up the U.S. Forest Service Road to the lookout tower on Fisher’s Peak (3,580 feet/1,091 meters).

Years later, I also hiked the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, half of the Wildwood Trail in Portland, Oregon, and a short stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail near Mount Hood. As a volunteer at the Hoyt Arboretum, southern terminus of the Wildwood Trail, I learned the flora and fauna while conducting tours on weekends, and by helping with trail maintenance and eradication of invasive species.

Since retiring to the Garden Isle, I have enjoyed many hikes, and look forward to many, many more. To date, the hike along (and in) the stream to Makaleha Falls is the most spectacular I’ve experienced, and the name of the mountains, the falls and stream,  maka·leha – to gaze in wonder, ranks it among the most aptly named features on the island. The stream itself derives from three springs, two atop a western ridge and one to the north near Poohaku Pili (2,592 feet/790 meters).

Lantana hedge and triple waterfalls
Falls viewed over the hedge in the western ridge

Hiking to the lower tier of these two- and three-tiered waterfalls is difficult because the trail, such as it is, is user maintained—as you get nearer to the falls the trail becomes vague or as Andrew Doughty says in The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, “wretched.” Prepare yourself to rock hop and at least get your feet wet—I hike in running shoes, some hike in water shoes, and still others wear some seriously expensive boots. This hike begins in the ruts of the perimeter road around two private water tanks at the end of Kahuna Road. Follow the road around two sides where it breaks to the right. Less than a quarter mile in, the road ends and the fun begins where the bunny path dumps you in the stream, just below the remnants of a washed out concrete dam. Cross the stream here into a lush bamboo grove.

rocks in a stream
First crossing below a washed-out dam
bamboo grove
Entering the bamboo groves

The inviting trail immediately to the right also dumps you in the stream and you could rock hop your way up and back onto the embankment, but that’s a bit dicey as well as being a little more treacherous on the trek out. It’s better to take the scenic route dead ahead, which turns right and up a steep embankment away from the stream and deeper into the groves. Although the trail is narrow it offers some spectacular views and eventually brings you back down to the stream. This way also tends to be a little drier than the “shortcut” (more than once, I recalled that the easy way out usually leads back in).

Orchids, fern, bamboo
Orchids nestled among the bamboo
steep path through bamboo groves
Returning to the path by the stream.

The path along the left stream bank is undulating, but more open than the bunny trail through the bamboo groves. Eventually, this too dumped me in the stream, across from a little island in the stream. I rock hopped my way to the island, but couldn’t tell which way to go the first time—the trail leads off both ways—and the crossing to the right looked easier. Now I know to ignore that because it too leads both upstream and downstream and is an absolutely horrid route, which forced me to cross the stream in deeper water, only to discover the nice trail that I should have taken to the left of the island.

Imagine my surprise when even the good trail ended in the stream. So, after crossing, I entered an enduring maze of Hau Trees (hibiscus tillaceus), some of which I went over and some were easier to go under. This is a common experience on the best trails here because these invasive, viny trees are everywhere. Ultimately, this mossy path eased into, wait for it, bamboo groves! Shortly afterward, it dumped me in the stream, where I easily hopped into the bamboo groves on the other side, and that was the last of the distinguishable trail.

three forks of Makaleha Stream
Convergence of streams and end of trail

First, I rock hopped my way upstream to the right in search of the two-tiered waterfall. Because the trail is nondescript from the convergence of the streams, I simply did my best to read which side of the stream yielded the longest passage, followed by an easy way to crossover to the other side, and discovered a few more recently etched trails around otherwise impassable portions of the stream. The longest of paths was the last one on the right which again, started in a bamboo grove, then passed through a small banana grove before returning to the stream below the falls.

sunlit gorge
Narrow gorge to the north falls
two-tiered waterfall
Spectacular! Well worth the wait.

After thoroughly taking in this rushing miracle, I hurried down stream over the rocks and paths to find the falls from the south and middle fork. While hopping upstream didn’t require many crossings, there was yet another island to traverse, yet there were no paths skirting obstacles. The further upstream I went, the more difficult the course until I eventually had to duck down an unlikely side stream which proved to be the way to go.

impassible boulders upstream
Here, I ducked down a stream on my left.
tall waterfall
Rushing Splendor

About That Change Jar . . .

change-jarSome of you may have noticed that in my Feel Good Friday posts (both here and previously on The View From the Treehouse) I’ve noted how much we put into our change/$1 bill jar. It has fluctuated from a few dollars to more than $10 some weeks, but it’s been an easy and painless way to add to our savings. In the past five weeks we’ve put way $50.82; since last November we’ve saved $736.00 (and some change).

My mother always kept a jar of pennies in the kitchen that she called her “trip jar.” Whenever the pennies filled the jar, she would roll them and turn them in at the bank. The money she saved from all those pennies went toward the break we took every afternoon when our family took a road trip. We always stopped somewhere for pie, or a sundae, or some other snack so my parents could have a rest and some coffee before hitting the road again. Saving pennies was a great idea for the time, but as costs started rising over the years pennies just weren’t going to cut it.

I later noticed that the nickel-and-dime amounts in our checking account seemed to drain our balance quickly. In one of those lightbulb moments I thought if that were true for my checkbook, then small amounts of money set aside should also add up quickly, so I started my own “trip jar.” At first all we saved were the odd coins we got from turning in bottles and cans, or that we found on the ground. The amount in our jar never seemed to grow all that much because we rarely used cash. I did save 100 yen coins for a year when we lived in Japan and ended up with several hundred dollars that I was able to use toward a trip to Hong Kong. It was eye-opening. The reason I was able to save so much? Cash was king in Japan – we didn’t use credit or debit cards there.

We seriously changed how we saved our change several years ago though when I wanted and needed to put away some serious $$$ for a Disney World trip for our family. One day I was reading a list of tips for saving toward a Disney vacation, and someone wrote about how they saved all their change and $1 bills. They paid for everything with cash, and if they used a debit card, they rounded up to the next $5.00 (for example, if the total was $33.29 they would round up the total to $35.00 and put away $2.71 in change). This person made a rule that neither change nor $1 bills would get spent – period. If they got any they were to immediately be put away. No exceptions.

And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since. We use cash these days, or round up whenever we use our debit card (and get lots raised eyebrows or questions from the cashiers over the small, strange amount of change we want back). We never spend any of our change or $1 bills, with the exception that at the farmers’ market we allow ourselves to use up to five $1 bills because we get so many back in change. All change or $1 bills immediately goes into a jar when we get home, and when we have $25 in $1 bills we bundle them and put them into our saving account; we roll our coins and put them away as well. We cash out small refund checks (less than $10) and put that money into our change jar, and we put in the money we get from recycling cans and bottle (everything gets recycled here in Hawai’i). Found money goes into the jar. We also occasionally set aside $5 bills, but we found that doing it regularly took too big of a bite out our budget.

My goal for this year was to save $800, but it’s pretty obvious at this point that we’ll exceed that, and we’ve set a goal of saving $2500 from change and $1 bills before we head out for our first travel adventure in the fall of 2018.

It really is a painless, easy way to save. We did learn through trial and error that rounding up or putting the change away needs to become a habit. But, once the habit is in place the “small stuff” adds up quickly.



The Idea (Wo)Man

21821228-spedizione-icone-idea-luce-composizione-forma-del-bulbo-vector-in-strati-di-facile-montaggioI’m to blame. I am the one who comes up with all these ideas for travel.

But that’s pretty much all I do on my own . . . come up with an idea. Then it’s tossed over to Brett to see what he thinks. And, if he likes the idea, from there on we work as a team.

Brett has only actually said “no” to me once in our marriage. He knows I’m just stubborn enough that if he said “no” to one of my ideas I would probably go ahead and figure out a way to do it anyway. Usually his answer to an idea that he’s not crazy about is something along the lines of “let’s think about it.” I know when I hear this that he doesn’t particularly care for the idea, and that he wants me to think about it some more and see if I’m actually serious or willing to commit myself. He knows that often when I do think it through a bit more thoroughly I’ll probably see that it’s really not such a good idea or not feasible. The idea gets dropped without any further discussion, argument or bad feelings.

If he does like an idea of mine or think it’s worth pursuing, he’ll throw back some question, or even start talking about it like it’s already been decided. I’ll never forget when I first brought up the idea of adoption. I heard about China adoptions one day from one of my college professors, but told her that while I could adopt without a second thought there was absolutely no way my husband would ever agree. Our son was 16, and both Brett and I were students and barely scraping by. That evening though I mentioned to Brett what I had heard about adopting from China, expecting to hear the familiar “let’s think about it.” Instead, he got a gleam in his eye and soon we were talking about what it would be like to add a child to our family. We started setting goals that evening, and a little over two years later, Brett had a good job, we had bought a house, and we had brought our first daughter home from China!

We were both intrigued by the story of the Senior Nomads, who have been traveling around Europe for the past two years, staying in Airbnb rentals. I read about them first, which got me dreaming, and then I got Brett to read the article about them in the New York Times and then some of their blog. When he finished I said I thought we could do something like that once our girls had all left the nest.

I was honestly surprised that his response wasn’t an immediate “no” or even “let’s think about it.” Brett started out by saying he didn’t want to leave Kaua’i, and I agreed. We love it here. We then started talking about how much we wanted to go to Japan and spend time with our son and his family. But we kept talking about traveling, places we wanted to see, what we could afford, and gradually we came up with our goal of spending three months in Japan and two months in Europe or elsewhere each year, with the rest of our time on Kaua’i.

Besides being the idea woman, I’m also the planner. Although we work together to firm up our goals, all the nuts and bolts (finances, lodging, airfare, etc.) of actually making things happen are up to me, which is fine because I thoroughly enjoy doing it and Brett doesn’t. I love doing all the research that comes ahead of traveling, of setting down that solid foundation that our travel experiences will be based on. As ideas pop up along the way I’ll throw them out to Brett though. I know one way or the other we’ll either start talking about the idea or I’ll hear, “let’s think about that.”

Sunday Afternoon 06/21/2015

It’s Father’s Day! Brett gets up earlier than any of the rest of us, but he patiently waited this morning so the girls and I could make him a special breakfast of a cheese omelet, sausages and whole wheat toast with lilikoi curd. We also gave him a cribbage set – he and I have talked about learning to play as it’s a game that would travel easily with us. I used to play many years ago, but have totally forgotten it all now so we’ll both be on the same learning curve. pic121094 Otherwise it’s been a pretty average week here at Casa Aloha. We’ve gotten things done around the house, run errands, gone to the farmers’ market, etc. – everything it seems but get to the beach. For the most part the weather in our neck of the woods hasn’t cooperated much, and on the one really terrific day Brett did a long hike. Maybe next week. Today I am:

  • Reading: Darn those library deadlines! I started The Sellout last weekend, and then a couple of days into it I got a notice from the library that my loan was ending. Grrrr! I seem to have had the worst luck recently with reserved library downloads arriving at the same time – I just can’t read them all that fast! Lesson learned: reserve just one book at a time, Laura! So, I’m finally back to finishing All The Light We Cannot See, which I started over a month ago before all these library downloads flooded in.
  • Listening to: The breeze through the palm trees, the roosters crowing. The weather can’t make up its mind today other than to be humid no matter what, so I’m just happy for now that there is a breeze
  • Watching: Brett and I are still working our way through Murdoch Mysteries and Rosemary & Thyme, although we’re into the last season of the latter. Next up will be Foyle’s War. Tonight we’re all going to watch The Imitation Game.
  • Cooking/baking: To continue the Father’s Day celebration, I’m fixing one of our favorite family dinners: Thai red curry chicken served with jasmine rice. We brought a few bottles of the Trader Joe’s curry sauce over with us when we moved, and a friend brought us some more, but we ration it for special occasions. The girls are going to bake and frost cupcakes for dessert.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: I finally went to our credit union and opened up an IRA account so I have somewhere to roll over a (ridiculously) small retirement savings account I will be getting from Oregon this fall on top of my monthly pension. Brett and I have also gotten some more windows cleaned – just a couple more sets to go! Each set has been a genuine chore though – I will be glad when they’re all finished (although we’ll have to start it all again in a few months).
  • Looking forward to next week: I’m greatly anticipating getting together on Wednesday for lunch with two women I met through blogging, Joy and Michelle, who also moved to Kaua’i last year! And, my cousin and her family will also be arriving on Kaua’i this week for a vacation, so we’ll be getting together as well. I haven’t seen my cousin in ages so am pretty excited to see her again and meet her family (she has kids the same age as our girls).

    Some of a recent order from Amazon Prime: coconut milk, rice noodles, gnocchi, organic shredded coconut and some tomato paste. It was paid for with a gift card earned through Swagbucks.
    Some of a recent order from Amazon Prime: fig bars, organic coconut milk, rice noodles, gnocchi, organic shredded coconut and a tube of tomato paste. It was all paid for with a gift card earned through Swagbucks!
  • Thankful for: There are not words to express how thankful I am for all that Brett is and has done as a husband and father. Although he grew up with an abusive father, he has worked hard to change that legacy and been an exemplary husband and a loving father. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am grateful for Amazon Prime and their free shipping! There are many things our family eats and uses that are either unavailable or unaffordable here that we are still able to get at a very reasonable cost because of Amazon Prime. We more than get our money back on the annual fee.

    Grass-fed, locally-raised beef burger on a homemade bun with Kaua'i grown lettuce, tomato and onion with a side of Hawaiian-style mac salad.
    Grass-fed, locally-raised beef burger on a homemade bun with Kaua’i grown lettuce, tomato and onion and a side of Hawaiian-style mac salad.
  • Bonus question of the week: What do you splurge on? Cleaning products! I could make my own, or buy something cheaper and save, but I really, really like the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products (especially the lemon verbena scent) so I will pay more for them. I am also willing to spend a little more for locally raised or grown food, and will pay a little more for organic if the price is not too out there.

How was your week? Hope it was a great one!

Feel Good Friday

Remember-to-be-happyI’m continuing this weekly update from The View From the Treehouse because it helps me focus throughout the week on the good things that happen, especially the little things that are often overlooked or quickly forgotten. Writing down and recalling the good things makes me happy. I hope it will encourage others to think of all the positive things that happened in their own weeks. You can share in the comments if you like!

Some of the good things that happened this week at Casa Aloha were:

  • WenYu finished her summer school class over a week early and with a good grade, and is enjoying some time off before another course begins next week.
  • We put $13.27 into the change/$1 bill savings.
  • All the leftovers (and there was a LOT of them) were finished. No food waste!
  • The hairstylist cut my hair exactly the way I wanted this time.
  • I had a short but good phone conversation with my mom.
  • The girls did their back-to-school shopping online, got some terrific deals and cute clothes, and their order arrived in just two days!
  • This week I went over 30,000 followers on Pinterest (and still remember how exciting it was to get my first)!
  • Brett completed a full-day hike up to the Makaleha Falls. He had tried before and wasn’t able to make it all the way.

All in all nothing too remarkable, but they made for a very nice week. What good things happened for you this past week?

Being SMART with Our Goals

8d0a21fae760c7f50e09457ec11ae320It’s one thing to say “we want to travel” and something else entirely to figure out how we’re going to do that. So, I figure a good place for me to start out on this blog is to put down for the record our goals for the future. These are what Brett and I are going to be working toward over the next few months and years.

Brett and I use the SMART system when we set our goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Creating goals the SMART way is an extremely efficient way of making sure that we don’t come up with anything too nebulous, unattainable or downright crazy.

We currently have set both short- and long-term goals:

Short term:

  • Brett’s trip to Oregon and California: He will spend 10 days with his sister beginning in late September. They will meet in Portland, take our oldest daughter (Meiling) to college and get her settled in, and then he and his sister will drive down to Los Angeles where he will spend a few days before flying home. This trip is in the bag: plane tickets have been purchased and money set aside so all he needs to do now is go!
  • The Big Family Mystery Adventure: I can say no more about this other than I am about half-way there. I still need to save a bit more, and need to find some decent air fares, but otherwise everything is in place for a fabulous family vacation next spring!
  • Getting our middle daughter (WenYu) off to college: This will happen in the fall of 2016. We can’t start any planning until we know which college she will be attending, and we won’t know that until next spring. We are still thinking about it quite a bit though. I will most likely be traveling with her to help her get settled in wherever she goes. We are already working though on having enough Hawaiian Airlines frequent flyer miles to get her where ever she goes and home for the holidays at no cost.

Long term goals:

  • Take our youngest daughter (YaYu) to college in the fall of 2018 and get her settled in.
  • Spend three months every spring in Japan, living near our son and his family, beginning in 2019. Ninety days within a 365 day period is the maximum time we can stay in Japan without a visa (which is very difficult to get) and we want to live there the entire three months.
  • Spend two months every fall somewhere in the world beginning in the fall of 2018. We will either stay in one place for the entire time, or split our time between two locations.

While we’re not exactly at the starting point, we’re still very much at the beginning of things, currently trying to firm up how much we are going to need to save and how we will accomplish that without disrupting our budget. All of this travel will be paid for in cash – NO credit cards. Each one of the goals meets the SMART standard though, so we already know how long we have and a fairly good idea what we need to do to get to the finish line. We know there will be bumps and stalls and surprises along the way, but hopefully things will start falling into place and keep moving along.

Here we go!

Fourth Time’s a Charm

188220757187dae32adb3af278d41724So here I am with my fourth blog. My fourth!

What can I say? Blogging the past few years has helped me keep track of life and stay on track with our dreams, plans and goals, but as the focus of our lives keeps evolving and changing so have the blogs. We’ve paid off our debt (I’m Losing It Here), downsized and moved ourselves to Kaua’i (Noho’Ana Hau’ole), and settled in to our new life on the Garden Island (The View From the Treehouse). Along the way I’ve learned more than I imagined, not just about other people and places, but most especially about myself, about what makes me happy, and about what I want to do in the future.

If you have followed any of my other blogs you know that I am a finisher. I don’t just dream. I set goals. I plan. And then I execute the plan and go for the finish line.

It wasn’t always that way though. I grew up internalizing a message from my family that I was unserious, scatterbrained, silly, unable to finish anything. Because I was supposedly incapable of making a decision my parents and others made decisions and plans for me, but more to accomplish their own dreams and preconceptions, not mine. What I wanted to do carried little validity because what did I know?  And of course others’ opinion of me was always validated because for some reason I never seemed to finish anything I started.

Then, in 1977 I did something totally crazy. Without telling anyone I enlisted in the navy in order to take advantage of the then-existing GI Bill benefits. Bets were made that I wouldn’t even finish boot camp let alone make my way in the armed forces. However, as difficult as boot camp was (and it was awful), I was determined to not only finish on time but do well, and I did. Most importantly I also learned, beyond anything my time in the navy taught me, that when I set my own goals, follow my own dreams and make my own plans I follow through and accomplish what I set out to do. I am not a quitter, and I can accomplish any goal I set for myself (although the jury is still out on maintaining a weight loss).

Whether it was adopting our three daughters, paying off our debt or moving our family to Hawai’i, Brett and I have not only dreamed, but made concrete plans for reaching our goals, and then worked those plans. The path to accomplishing our goals hasn’t always been a straight line, or without its issues and setbacks, but we have always kept going and adjusted as necessary. And here we are, parents of four wonderful children, retired and living our dream on Kaua’i!

Our move to Kaua’i is not the end but the beginning of a new stage for us. We’re still dreaming, setting goals, and making plans. We’re in the beginning phases of thinking about how we will accomplish all we want to do and what we will need to accomplish in this next phase of our lives. In just three years our youngest daughter will graduate from high school and head off to college. And after she flies away, so will we. Beautiful Kaua’i will remain our home base, but we are looking forward to becoming Occasional Nomads, spending time in Japan every year near our son and his family and also visiting other parts of the world.

Until then we will be figuring out not only what we want to do, but where we want to go, how we want to do it, what we need to get there and how we will afford to not only travel but get three girls through college. Our income will be fluctuating for the next couple of years as the girls move on and my retirement benefits are added in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride for a while, but we have been there, done that and will adjust as necessary and keep going.

The Occasional Nomads will continue with updates from Kaua’i, and both the Sunday Afternoon and Feel Good Friday posts will continue as well. Brett will also be joining me here this time around, contributing posts about his hikes around Kaua’i, and his upcoming trip back to the mainland. His voice will be a valuable addition to our ongoing retirement story, and I’m thrilled he’s agreed to join me this time.

Many thanks to all of you for coming along – I hope you’ll enjoy this latest ride!