Travel Totaled my Car – How we Barely Escaped Eastern Oregon

Having never been to the far reaches of Eastern Oregon, we felt like this was a good time to get that knocked off our bucket list. Some of the highlights of the area are Steens Mountain, Alvord Desert, Leslie Gulch, and Jordan Craters. This would be our one last road trip before departing on our round-the-world trip. With it being such a remote part of Oregon, good preparation was critical as anything could happen. Fortunately we had an incredible trip, but it wasn’t quite what we expected.

Page springs campground

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Hidden Gems of Central Oregon: 3-Day Itinerary

Oregon is a beautiful place, especially if you know where to go!  Everyone typically thinks of Multnomah Falls or Timberline Lodge or Cannon Beach or Crater Lake…  While those are undeniably stunning, and everyone should see them at least once, there are some hidden gems far less frequented.  If you have a few days to spare, check out these unique sites in Central Oregon.

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Our Favorite Restaurant in 2018

We like to eat out quite often, and we tend to splurge more than we should. There are so many good restaurants that it is hard to pick a favorite. For us a restaurant is more than just the food it serves; it is also the experience. To be a favorite means that we enjoy our time there even without the food. A great restaurant has staff that is present when we need them, food that is timely and well prepared, and there’s a good atmosphere. The taste and quality also matters. After our Favorite Japanese Meal post, our favorite food shouldn’t surprise you. And that leads us to our favorite restaurant experience in 2018. Drum roll please….seattle-1

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Hawaii: Pukas

This was one of the most beautiful spots we visited while in Hawaii. The sun, the water, and the rocks all sang in perfect harmony at this photogenic beach.

LotsaSmiles Photography

In Hawaiian, “puka” means simply “hole.”  It is most commonly used in association with the small shells strung together into a necklace.  These have a naturally occurring hole, making them nature’s beads.  The term is also used to refer to holes in the lava rock, much like Pali Puka on Oahu or the heart-shaped puka next to Nakalele Blowhole on Maui.

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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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