Hawaii: Highway Ghosts

An oddity of the Big Island. You learn something new every day!

LotsaSmiles Photography

As we were traveling from beach to mountain to snorkel spot on the big island, we noticed an odd sight: cars abandoned and completely stripped on the side of the road, mere shells of once functional vehicles.

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Chicago: The Opportunity | LotsaSmiles Photography

It’s time to take another break – the holiday season is crazy busy!!  Are you swamped, too?  We have some exciting updates coming to our website, and more adventures on the horizon.  But for now, please enjoy this tale of another opportunity we had to travel on the corporate dime!


I learned from my father many years ago one very important lesson: take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.  After all, you never know when you might look back on a “no” and wish that it had been a “yes.”  I strive to live every day by the mantra of “no regrets,” and thus far, it has served me well.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2011

When Aaron’s company decided to move its headquarters from Portland to Chicago, they offered him continued work in the new city, along with a relocation package.  To help convince us, they would fly us (both) out to Chicago for a weekend, show us some apartments and the city sights, and wine and dine us – all on the company’s dime.  We’re quite happy living in Portland, and Aaron hated his job at the time, so moving wasn’t even a consideration for us.

Aaron almost told them no, outright.  I thought he was crazy.

Free.  Trip. Continue reading “Chicago: The Opportunity | LotsaSmiles Photography”

Hawaii: Punaluu Beach Park

This might have been my favorite part of our trip to Hawaii. I was fascinated by the ruins, and it was interesting to read about it after we got back. I could have spent the entire day there photographing this relic of history.

LotsaSmiles Photography

This is it, folks – the last Hawaii post!  I know some of you are sad about that, but I’m excited to share some photos from some of our other adventures as well.

We took it easy on our last day, making our way back to the Kona side of the big island, stopping into a beach or two, hitting up the southernmost restaurant in the U.S., and wrapping up the trip back at our Puka spot near the airport.

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Hawaii: Captain Cook

We snorkeled many times while in Hawaii, but nowhere had clearer waters than Captain Cook. A fun day of kayaking and swimming with all the beautiful tropical fish.. and I even found Totoro!!!

LotsaSmiles Photography

One can’t really visit Hawaii and not go snorkeling, so we were sure to get out as much as we could.  While Two Step had some amazing fish (and sea turtles), we found the water clarity simply couldn’t be beat at the secluded Captain Cook point.

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A Weekend in Seattle

As I’ve divulged before, I love surprises.  And fortunately enough for me, Aaron loves to dole them out (when he can keep it secret long enough to actually surprise me).  He particularly loves to plan surprise trips.  So this year, for my birthday, he packed us into the car and just started driving north.  And for me the destination was a mystery.

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Hawaii: The Volcano

This was something we missed on our first visit to Hawaii. I’m glad we were able to make it a priority this time around. So much geology to examine and explore!

LotsaSmiles Photography

Hawaii is a series of islands created through volcanic activity.  However, when we honeymooned there seven years ago, it was the one major thing we didn’t fit into our itinerary, despite Aaron’s affinity for geology.  Therefore, we were determined to explore it this time.

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Hawaii: Mauna Kea

The view from atop Mauna Kea is always awe-inspiring. It’s one of the few places one can go from sea level to 14,000′ in an hour or two (without an airplane). Here, you can be on top of the world.

LotsaSmiles Photography

If you’re going to the Big Island, and if you have any fascination with the night sky, you won’t want to miss Mauna Kea.  Home to the world’s largest observatory and nearly 14,000 feet above sea level (and above most cloud layers), you won’t see more beautiful stars, especially if you live anywhere near a metropolitan area.  And for a photographer?  Just, wow.

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Miami – The Expense-free Redux

About a year after we vacationed in Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Florida, we had an opportunity to return through a last-minute vacancy in a business-organized trip.  Aaron’s company offered him the suddenly open spot, and much like the last time we were offered a free trip, we jumped on it!

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Of course our agenda was much different, given we weren’t really planning this trip, but it was still just as fun as the previous.  And the obligatory seminar was worth getting the airfare and per diem on someone else’s dime.

Continue reading “Miami – The Expense-free Redux”

Hawaii: South Point

Come explore the southernmost point in Hawaii and (debatably) the U.S. Take the plunge off the 40-foot cliff if you dare…

LotsaSmiles Photography

We couldn’t visit Hawaii without hitting the southernmost tip of the United States.  We had, of course, already been to Florida’s Southernmost Point (though this isn’t even accurate), but this is markedly less touristy and clearly more south.  

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Newport Oregon: A Coastal Gem

Oregon has some magnificent coastal areas that are more than just beaches. Several rock formations create some very unique landscapes that you cannot find anywhere else. Last weekend we enjoyed our time with family, an accommodation with a view, and some delicious seafood during our stay. The weather felt like it was summer even though it was early November.

Beach near Newport Oregon

Continue reading “Newport Oregon: A Coastal Gem”