Let’s Talk Travel Plans!

I can guarantee that WenYu's desk will not look like this . . . it's too organized!
I can guarantee that WenYu’s desk will not look like this . . . it’s too organized!

I almost can’t believe (or maybe I don’t want to) that in just a few weeks it will be time to escort WenYu back to Massachusetts to begin her college career at Wellesley. I am both extremely excited for her, and so proud that I could burst, but I’m also growing increasing sad about her upcoming departure. We are all going to miss her calm, steady, and easygoing presence in our home.

I'm looking forward to getting to explore the Wellesley campus while I'm there.
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the beautiful Wellesley campus while I’m there.

The trip will be a bittersweet one. I am already dreading the day I have to say good-bye to WenYu and let her go, but I am also looking forward to reunions with good friends (during our San Diego layover) and former childhood neighbors who now live very close to Wellesley in Massachusetts. On the way home I will spend a couple of days with my mom before heading home to Kaua’i. I’ll only be away from home for eight days, but there’s a lot packed into that short period of time.

SO excited about getting to spend time with this little guy, and meeting our new granddaughter!
I’m already SO excited about getting to spend some time with this little guy next year, and meeting our new granddaughter!

We’re currently in a holding pattern on our Spring 2017 trip to Japan. We’ve got our hotel reservations, but airfares are still not down to where we’re ready to buy. It really is too early anyway right now, but we should see lower airfares starting to appear in September and October. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Hawaiian Airlines offers some good fares this fall as we’d love to add to our mileage accounts, but we’ll go with whomever offers the best deal. Brett and I have been talking about what we want to see and do there with YaYu when we’re not spending time with our son, daughter-in-law, grandson and new granddaughter!

The path around the Imperial Palace is 3.3 miles - last year our son walked 12 laps!
The path around the Imperial Palace is 3.3 miles – last year our son walked 12 laps!

However . . . a second trip to Japan has been added for 2017! Meiling, WenYu and I, along with some of my friends, are planning a June trip to Tokyo. WenYu has wanted to go back ever since she went last year, and Meiling has always wanted to go but hasn’t had the chance, so I came up with the idea of forming a team to walk with our son in his “Imperial Challenge” next year (walking as many laps as possible around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo to raise funds for charity). Currently I’m waiting to hear from him with the date for next year’s Challenge, but once I have that planning can begin in earnest. I’m shooting for a week’s stay for our group, using AirBNB for lodging. The girls and I will be responsible for setting up breakfast for everyone in the morning, as well as ‘happy hour’ in the evening, and I will be taking our little group out for sightseeing and shopping excursions in the Tokyo area as well as coordinating a couple of celebratory group dinners (and of course getting together with our son and family whenever possible). Some expenses will be paid by participants upfront, but the rest they will be responsible for covering on their own, including airfare, meals other than those provided, and all in-country transportation. WenYu has already almost saved enough from her work this summer to cover her expenses, and Meiling is also on her way to meeting her saving goal. I’ll post more details as they develop.

dreamstime_m_31478558-e1446053993687Finally, I have come up with a fabulous plan for another Mystery Vacation™ in 2017!! Hawai’i public schools take a week-long Fall Break every October, and it’s the perfect time to visit the destination I have in mind. I’ve done a bit of research into costs and it’s very doable and affordable. Brett told me after last spring’s trip to the Grand Canyon that I wasn’t allowed to plan another Mystery Vacation™, but both he and YaYu are once again on board and looking forward to being surprised. I’ll leave you all to start guessing where we might be going!

Rotorua, New Zealand - one of the places we hope to visit in the fall of 2018
Rotorua – we plan to visit New Zealand in the fall of 2018

Although 2017 looks to be a big year for travel, after we’re home from next year’s Mystery Vacation™ we will be taking nearly a year off from going anywhere. In the fall of 2018 it will be time to get YaYu off to college, and then Brett and I hope to visit New Zealand for a couple of weeks. We will not be able to go to Japan at all in 2018 as the first of our annual three-month visits will begin in 2019 (mid-February through mid-May), and Japan only allows visitors to be in country for 90 days in any 365-day period (unless you can get a special long-term visa, which is very difficult to obtain). We’re hoping though that our son and family will be able to make it over here sometime during the year. And of course, in between our travels we will be saving, saving, and saving so we can get up and go again!

Plans Are Being Made


I ♥ travel planning! The challenge of scoring a good airfare or getting a great hotel room at a fabulous price or arranging ground transportation and activities – all the necessary pieces to creating a solid foundation for a fantastic trip – is immensely fun for me.

So, with WenYu heading off to college in Massachusetts in just four months, I am heading  once again into the throes of travel planning because, besides making sure WenYu is safely settled in with all her stuff, I’ve been encouraged to add a couple of extras to the itinerary.

One of my dearest friends from our navy days lives in Bath, Maine, and given that I will be so close I am hoping to head up her way for two or three days for a visit (another dearest friend from our navy days used to live in Maine and I so, so wish she were still there to visit too). If we can work out our schedules, I will most likely take the train up to Portland from Boston – it’s very affordable.

After my time in New England, I will head west to Denver to spend three to four days visiting my mom before flying back to Hawai’i.

So, here’s what I have to figure out and arrange (for now):

  1. One-way airfare from Lihue to Boston for WenYu and I
  2. Ground transportation from Boston to Natick, MA
  3. Hotel in Natick
  4. Rental car in Natick (I am NOT driving in Boston)
  5. Transport from Natick to North Station in Boston (maybe)
  6. Round-trip train travel from North Station to Portland, ME (maybe)
  7. Transport from North Station to Logan airport (maybe) with a . . .
  8. Possible overnight hotel stay in Boston
  9. One-way airfare from Boston to Denver
  10. Rental car at Denver airport
  11. Hotel in Loveland, CO
  12. One-way airfare from Denver to Lihue

It all seems like a lot, and I’m sure there’s something that I’ve forgotten or that will pop up, but I know it will all come together. Let the planning begin!

Looking Back, Looking Forward

imagesAlthough I’m excited about starting a new year, I’m also feeling bittersweet about saying good-bye to 2015. It was a very good year for our family. Highlights include:

  • Meiling landing on her feet in Oregon, finding a job and saving enough to pay her college expenses.
  • fabulous trip to Japan in March with WenYu and YaYu, and getting to spend time with our son and family as well as Brett’s sister.
  • Celebrating our first year on Kaua’i in June!
  • WenYu and YaYu’s successful year at their new school. They made friends, lettered in three sports, and did exceptionally well in all their classes.
  • Brett’s great trip back to the mainland in September, getting Meiling settled at college and then continuing on a fun road trip with his sister before heading back to Kaua’i.
  • Successfully retiring from the state of Oregon in November, and getting my Social Security set up to begin in January.
  • Meeting and making friends with three readers (and their spouses) from the blog!
  • Finding a wonderful new house to rent in a great location.
  • WenYu’s selection as a national Questbridge Finalist in November, followed by her acceptance to Colorado College with a full scholarship during their Early Action round in December.
  • Our whole family being together on the island for a wonderful and memorable Christmas!

We have lots to look forward to in the upcoming new year: three trips (the Mystery Vacation™ in March, Oahu in June, and getting WenYu off to college in August), as well as other milestones, such as WenYu’s graduation from high school in May. Mostly though we’re hoping for continuing good health, a calm year, great weather and as many trips to the beach as possible!

The Next Three Years

dream-dreams-map-travel-Favim.com-839222 I know I keep writing about what we’re dreaming about for the future, but what about the three intervening years between now and 2018?

Here’s what we’ll be focusing on for the next three years:

  1. Get WenYu and YaYu through high school and launched off to college. This is our top priority. Meiling is already on her way, and this next year WenYu will be applying to colleges and for scholarships. YaYu has just three more years of high school to go before she leaves our nest, but she is already thinking about where she wants to go to college and what she needs to do to get there.
  2. Save. I will outline this more in the future, but we have a heap o’ saving to do in the next three years to turn our dreams into realities.
  3. Enjoy Kaua’i. I still sometimes can’t believe we live in this beautiful place. I thought we would like it, but living here is so much more and so much better than we imagined. Every day here is a gift.
  4. Officially retire. While Brett is retired, I’m not, officially that is. But, beginning in November I will start receiving a (very small) monthly pension as well as receive a (very small) lump sump disbursement from Oregon. I have loads of paperwork to get started on this month to make that happen.
  5. Stay healthy. Both Brett and I currently enjoy excellent health and we plan to keep it that way. We both feel that our health has improved since we moved to Kaua’i: we’re eating healthier, eating less, and getting more exercise. We both are sleeping better as well. A concern for both of us here is skin health, but we’re obsessive about using sunscreen (SPF 70 or higher), and I don’t move from under the umbrella when we go to the beach.
  6. Save some more.
  7. Learn Japanese. With the acquisition of Rosetta Stone for now, we’ve already gotten this started. Coming up soon will be textbooks. We have no expectations of becoming fluent, but we will know a whole lot more than we do now when it’s time for us to go in 2019.
  8. Make plans. We have three years to firm things up about where and what we will be doing, but once decisions are made then we can start the official planning, including reading every guidebook we can find, researching lodgings, airfares, etc. The goal of planning is to set up a solid foundation for a trip so we can be more flexible and spontaneous when we’re at our destination.
  9. Continue saving. Can’t do this enough!

Will there be bumps in the road along the way? Of course. But, we have our priorities in order, and know what we have to do to reach our goals, and so will roll with the punches, pick ourselves up if we get knocked down, and keep going.

And, if the next three years are anything like the past three, the time is going to fly by.