Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

AFFIRMATION | Lessons From Kenya

Posted by krystamasciale on September 10, 2012  |   No Comments »

I think a lot of us spend time playing small and making excuses for why we don’t invest our time into things we feel would have a real impact on humanity.

After returning from a business development trip in Honduras nearly 5 years ago, I felt completely paralyzed.

A part of me was energized by the opportunities that micro-finance was bringing to people around the globe (particularly the people we were working with in Tegucigalpa), while another part of me felt like the problem was just too big. I didn’t see how I could be a part of the solution and I’ve been left making excuses ever since about why I don’t actively engage in helping people in developing nations build small businesses. Here were my excuses pre-Kenya:

–> I need to spend time developing a bigger network so I can have more resources to work with.

–> I need more experience as a business owner myself. Hell, as a business owner AT ALL in order to bring legitimacy and relevance to the people in need.

–> I need to make more money.

–> Why would I try and start a micro-finance program when there are so many established  organizations (and people) who have been doing it longer with greater resources and experience?

Armed with all of those excuses, it’s no wonder I’ve made ZERO impact in an area that makes my heart skip a beat anytime I read, hear or talk about it. Pretty lame if you ask me.

While I was in Kenya, I was able to host a seminar about micro-finance and branding with Opportunity Kenya. The men and women who came to the seminar were looking for suggestions on how to grow existing businesses and stay competitive. Much like entrepreneurs in the states, they were in similar battles of supply and demand, work/life balance, over-saturation in their markets and not working with their ideal customers.

As I sat there and observed the dialog, I realized the foundational work we do at B!G DEAL BRANDING (particularly Brand Therapy) is exactly what these people needed  in order to think differently about their role as a business owner. I jumped in and started talking about their values, strengths, partnering with people who have complimentary skills, and what it would look like if they were able to attract the ideal customer. The conversation was electrifying and I found myself so excited about their goals and dreams for both their lives and their businesses. I listened as women talked about their ideas for the next phase of their business that would not only allow their children to continue going to school, but would also employee multiple women in their neighborhood who were out of work. The motivation for these business owners was to give as many people in their sphere of influence a chance at a better life. And suddenly I felt like my experience and passions were aligning perfectly with a real need in this community.

I realized that, despite the number of people invested in micro-finance around the world, there is still room for me to contribute. I have the passion, resources and experience necessary to be a part of the conversation. And I’m not trying to change the world. I’m just trying to make the lives of a dozen business owners better with a few ideas, some tangible solutions and doing what I can to connect them to people on the ground who can be more accessible. None of the excuses I had before are valid anymore and the affirmation that one person can actually serve a part in making this world a little better was so encouraging.

I know there are a lot of issues to tackle out there and a lot of people in real pain who need our help. And I used to be as cynical as the next about how one person can make a real difference in this world. But when you get to know real people, hear their stories and be in a place to offer them real solutions … there’s no denying that every.single.person.matters. The craziest thing is that to make a difference, you don’t have to know how to build houses, start businesses or be a teacher. You just have to show up and let people know you are FOR them. I love that. No hiding behind excuses anymore … we all need to do our part.

Read more about how you can get involved with helping small business owners here.

 

CONTROL | Lessons From Kenya

Posted by krystamasciale on August 30, 2012  |   1 Comment »

I’m a control freak. A by-the-book Type A personality. I come packaged with a sense of urgency, impatience, aggressiveness, competitiveness, achievement-orientation and chronic facial tension. This is a MASSIVE understatement to anyone who knows me. (Serious. All-day-every-day.)

One of my reasons for going on the trip was to learn how to be a better follower. Yes. FOLLOW. How many times do you hear someone like me say that?

It seemed like a good opportunity to test that out. There were a good handful of people on the team who had been to this exact camp multiple times and are well traveled. I have never run a kid’s camp in my life and hadn’t been to Africa, so I had already deferred any major decision-making to others on the team.

What I didn’t realize I’d learn was that my need to be in control of every aspect of my life was a complete illusion. After three weeks of being completely out of control, I stepped back into the reality I had created for myself and realized this whole control freak thing wasn’t working for me anymore. [DISCLAIMER: No, I have not lost any of the characteristics above. I’m just a TAD more reserved than I was before and find myself turning off my computer much earlier to watch episodes of Friends. Let’s be real, this shit takes time …]

1. Receiving help. I know I said asking for help was going to be hard in my posts leading up to our trip. I just didn’t consider how hard RECEIVING it would be. Yikes. When the hubs got sick in Kenya, one of our team members came in and cleaned our bathroom. Cleaned. Our. Bathroom. I still can’t get over that. There will never be anything I can do to ever come close to repaying her for that. When the hubs went back into the hospital when we landed in L.A., we had another friend from the trip bring us lunch and a handful of team members checking into ways to help us pay for the bill. We even had people send us money from out of town to pay for dinners while he was recovering. The kids we were trying to serve in Kenya who don’t even have 1% of what we have said they were praying for us every day we saw them. I can’t repay any of these people and they don’t expect it. That was hard for me to swallow. My need to be and appear in control over-shadowed other people’s desire to participate in our lives up until this point. When we had no other choice, I got to see what real community looked like: me getting over myself and letting other people participate in our life and us in theirs.

2. Business Failure. How will my business look when I return after 2 weeks of being unavailable? Yes. I’m THAT narcissistic. As I was prepping my clients/team for my leave, I realized that I controlled way more than I probably should. I’m almost certain it made me feel more important or more needed. The point is, there wasn’t room for anyone else because I was fine … I had it under control. When I returned, the business was totally fine. No big surprise because my partners and clients are kick ass. The world kept spinning and I realized not everything I made important was actually important. I’m now working on a plan to let new, talented, fully-capable people into my little piece of our B!G DEAL pie. Why? Because people aren’t as incompetent as I’d like to think they are (although that theory totally makes me feel better about myself).

3. Following is awesome.  Well, following is awesome if you’re a leader. Here’s what I learned about being a follower: you have to take ownership of the leader’s vision and execute as best as you can with what you have. It’s that simple. Was it simple for me? No. Was I a shining star? No. But a lot of people on my team were and it was a really great incubator for me to learn. Our leaders were amazing because they empowered us to own our responsibilities and do what needed to be done without having to ask for permission. The team was amazing because they did just that: they owned their responsibilities and were resourceful.

I’ll continue to be achievement-oriented, have a value for time and scrunch my face a lot. But I’ll be striving to be less adamant about controlling every detail of my life. Because the truth is, I’m not as in control as I’d like to think I am and it’s really freaking exhausting. Funny how it takes a few weeks in unfamiliar territory to remind you Who’s boss.

“Make the goal big enough, and you will have to ask others for help.” Jason Jaggard, Spark.

PERSPECTIVE | Lessons From Kenya

Posted by krystamasciale on August 27, 2012  |   No Comments »

You have a chance to get out of the past.

That’s a direct quote from my Executive Coach, Adrian Koehler. A week before my trip to Kenya I gave him some reasons why I was a little nervous about how this trip was going to change me. He laughed, said I was full of shit and suggested perhaps I get a new story.

In effort to maintain full disclosure here, you should know I’ve been living off the momentum of my past which has been operating on fumes for years now. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been highly motivated by being the underdog. Whether it was in my family, church, school … really anywhere people didn’t believe in me. I excelled in proving them wrong (even if they weren’t looking). It was my story. For the last year, however, that story just hasn’t fit as well as it used to. Because I feel comfortable doing things I’m good at, I did everything I could to be the underdog. I would created a racket in my brain that would either rehash irrelevant BS from my past OR create new baggage unnecessarily just so I felt like I had something to fight against so that I could move forward.

Hey, I was never great at math.

The problem is that I needed a new story. I needed something to motivate me that didn’t start or end with destructive behavior. 

And that’s where Kenya comes in.

This trip gave me a new reason to be motivated AND some positive memories to replace the painful ones I’ve held onto for no good reason. My outdated perspective was the most obvious thing to change as a result … especially in my approach to God, humanity and myself.

Let’s start with God. For about six years now, I’ve had a hard time reading the Bible and sitting through a lengthy prayer without fidgeting a little (a lot). I initially chalked that up to being the worst Christian ever and then realized I didn’t necessarily lose faith in God, I just had a lot of baggage with how Scripture had been abused in my life and prayers had been over dramatized and impersonal. When we got to Kenya I was met with daily team devotionals and prayers from some of the most fervent Kenyans. And the weirdest thing … it didn’t make me all nauseous. God became real again through the Bible and prayer … which blew my freaking mind and changed my perspective a tad bit on humanity.

Which brings me to point numero dos. There are a lot of people who call themselves Christians that make Jesus seem ridiculous. I’ve been just as jaded as anyone else by the interactions I’ve had with Christians. Some of that cynicism has come straight from the church through my involvement in leadership on worship teams and even from going overseas for ‘missions trips.’ I expected the Kenyans to be just as cynical as I am about the great white Americans coming in to “save the day” and snap a few photos with some cute little African kids for their Christmas newsletter. Quite the opposite actually. The church we now attend has spent 7 years working diligently all year round with these teams in Nairobi and Kibera. As a church, we have deeply rooted relationships with these people that breeds collaboration and love, not distrust. The gratitude our Kenyan leaders showed our team was incredibly humbling and so healing for someone like me who has been so angry at people (particularly Christians) who exploit people in other countries for their own benefit.

I was also asked to be on the music team that performed at two different churches during our time in Kenya. Holy Moses. I stopped leading worship a little over 3 years after a 7-year stint (which is also about the time I stopped singing in my car, shower or in the audience on Sundays). Music — especially worship music — had so many painful memories attached that I was a little nervous to even be on the team. Our last ‘performance’ was at a larger church in Nairobi. After their extremely energetic time of singing (and dancing), the hubs looked over and said, “Are you nervous?” I wasn’t, but I could tell he was. These people took their worship seriously. I’m talking a full choir of at least 100 people, a lead singer and a good half a dozen other ‘front men’ with the most gorgeous voices I’ve heard in a long time. The congregation was in it to win it and a group of white people from Hollywood were about to grace them with our presence on stage. Perfect.

We did our lovely little English tune and then went straight into one of their native Swahili songs. Oh. Em. Gee. With the first syllable of that song, I felt this weird breeze from behind me and saw the congregation of about 1,700 jump to the feet and start dancing. I realized the choir had instantly chimed in behind us and the congregation was so loud I couldn’t hear a hint of our team in the monitors. And in that moment I remembered what it was like to have music in my life again. I remembered all the stuff about leading worship that I really loved. And in one moment, the story I had been holding onto for three years was replaced with a new story that is far more joyful. And seriously … joy is something Kenyans could blow us out of the water with. I’m so glad that image is burned in my brain forever.

As for myself … well, I adopted the stories of some of the kids to give me fuel for the fire. There were a lot of little underdogs at that camp that were destined to be super heroes and I feel a personal responsibility to make sure their stories didn’t stop in Kibera or fall on deaf ears. I didn’t need to create my own drama in order to feel motivated. That doesn’t do anyone any good. What I needed was a story I could believe in that was relevant and tangible. I needed to see a new way of channeling my energy and doing something better in this world without being confined to the events of my past. Kenya opened that opportunity for me and what I saw is irreversible.

“We see only what we’ve always seen. This makes seeing new possibilities nearly impossible. It keeps us getting what we’ve always gotten out of life, for better or worse.” Jason Jaggard from Spark.

UNITY | Lessons From Kenya

Posted by krystamasciale on August 23, 2012  |   1 Comment »

So we’re back. And just like I will never be the same because of this trip, L.A. will never be the same because of the people we went with.

I think it all started on our 16-hour flight to Dubai. I’ve made that trip before, in coach … alone. I thought I would hate every hour of it just the same this time around. As it turns out, traveling with 21 people has its advantages, like mile high happy hour and story time.

Once we landed in Nairobi, I already felt like I had made more friends and couldn’t wait to meet the kids and get to know more of my team members better.

What we didn’t anticipate was a first week that was wrought with so much emotional, physical and mental exhaustion that we’d be forced into a situation that would turn our group of strangers into family overnight. Literally.

After our second day of camp, our team gathered in the living room to debrief and go over details for the next day. The hubs leaned over with a goofy look on his face and asked if we had Tums. Who does he think I am? We brought EVERYTHING, remember? (total bonus points if you can find the TUMS).

Anywho, I told him yes and he headed to our room while the rest of us pow-wowed. For the rest of the night I was up with a husband who was rapidly making his way to the seventh layer of hell. From the sound of it, so were a few of our other team members. For security reasons, we couldn’t leave the house in the middle of the night to get anyone to the hospital so they waited it out until 5 a.m. The first batch of hospitalized team members totaled 3 from a bug believed to have come from our lunch that day. A few hours later, 6 more made their way to the hospital (including our two leaders). Those of us remaining still had to run a camp for 250 kids. Well, most of us. I spent most of the day trying to sleep since sleeping wasn’t an option in my room that night.

When I made my way out to the camp, I saw half of our team willingly carrying the weight of those who couldn’t be there that day. One of our team members had even scrubbed our bathroom when the hubs was taken to the hospital with rubbing alcohol to make sure it was sanitized in case whatever bug he had was contagious. Who does that? And that’s when I saw it … the most unified group of people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with in my life.

I saw Kenyan leaders picking up the slack and helping our team make sure the kids didn’t feel abandoned or cheated by the lack of hands on deck. I saw people praying with such an honest faith for our sick team members (children included), that it made me feel like we were all fighting for something bigger than just health. We were fighting against an attempt to steal joy, hope and unity from this experience. And our team wasn’t having it.

The next day, ill team members were moving slowly but surely around camp while new members fell ill. On Friday, we gathered in the living room after breakfast and realized our team was back at capacity. Just as we were celebrating, we got news that another team member was very ill. I freaking lost my marbles. All week this team had been beat up and spit out … one person at a time. Just when we thought we were in the clear, another blow … and this time it hit me straight in the heart. I went up to our room, face-planted on the bed and sobbed. The hubs came in, flipped me over and said, “Don’t let this thing win. Get yourself together and let’s go run this camp.”

Such a jerk.

Until I realized … Masciales don’t lose. And it appeared that neither did this team.

We ended that day wrecked with good byes from our first batch of kids and the weight of a week we weren’t prepared for. But as we sat at dinner that night, I looked around the room and realized: this could have been a disaster. Twenty-one people from 21 different backgrounds with 21 different opinions could have led to division, clicks, petty arguments. And, yet, we were all celebrating together that we did it. We survived our first week and all of us knew we couldn’t have done it without every person there.

That unified spirit never left us in Kenya and the beauty is that we brought it home with us. This experience and these people taught me how to ask for help and receive it without feeling guilty or indebted. They taught me that people show up without you having to ask. And they taught me that unity can exist when some of the most dysfunctional people come together to do something bigger than themselves for people who can’t repay them.

u·ni·ty [yoo-ni-tee]: a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one

 

Explore Downtown L.A. Rooftop

Posted by krystamasciale on July 9, 2012  |   No Comments »

Since my last post on “Never Stop Exploring” I’ve taken a few excursions around L.A. and thought I’d share the latest.

The hubs and I went downtown yesterday for an afternoon rooftop/pool/cocktail/live music adventure. I mean, how much more awesome could that combination get?

Our good friend Jason Joseph and his band were bringing the funk while we sipped ice cold adult beverages and basked in the sun on top of the J.W. Marriott.  If you guys are available, he’ll be playing there every Sunday from 1-5 in August and again in two weeks. No cover. Here are some Instagram pics:

Anyone out there have a good story about their latest adventures around town?

Never Stop Exploring

Posted by krystamasciale on June 18, 2012  |   5 Comments »

Well hello there blog friends!

It has been exactly two months since we’ve chatted here and that’s about to change … again.

I’ve been doing some thinking and writing and thinking again and I’m ready to get back on the horse. I’d like to say I’m just too busy to write but that’s such a load of crap. I’m just lazy. And when I’m lazy, I want to punch myself. So. At the risk of inflicting self-harm, here I am.

Since it’s fresh on the ol’ brain, I thought I’d start with a little conversation I’ve been having with myself lately: Exploration.

ex·plo·ra·tion —  “An organized trip into unfamiliar regions.”

Does that make anyone else all tingly inside? There’s nothing I love more than a little trip into unfamiliar territory. There’s something exciting about the newness and something completely exhilarating about the anxiety that comes with the unknown.

One of the major issues with working from home is that I’m not forced to venture out much.

After flying home from a business trip to Dallas I say to the hubs: “I want to travel more. Why don’t we ever go on weekend trips to NYC or SF or ITALY? Huh?”

The hubs through a blank stare: “Well, you just got back from traveling. And , for the record, we’ve been to Hawaii, Kansas and Missouri already this year not to mention a trip to Africa this summer. If you want to go somewhere other than those places, book a trip.”

And then I panic. A) Because I know that booking a trip requires money, which we don’t have much of. B) I really wanted to blame my problem on someone else and he TOTALLY made it my issue. Is it so wrong to want to have all the money in the world AND be coddled when I’m bat shit crazy? And that’s when I fling myself into a pity party about how awful it is that I can’t just hop on a plane whenever I feel like it to go wherever I want. I mean, so and so on Instagram gets to go places all the time, why can’t I?

Right about the time I was thrusting myself into utter first world hysteria, my good friend Sara came into town to spend the week with me. We went all over SoCal, taking in the sites and eating some of the best food on planet earth. I was excited to be out and about that I almost forgot I wasn’t on vacation myself.

And that’s when it hit me: The answer to my problems wasn’t to drop a wad a cash on a plane ticket and hotels (although, that needs to happen periodically as well).  The solution is to never stop exploring.

So I’ve decided to block time out of my schedule each week to explore my city. Get out, do something new, go to a part of town I rarely frequent and take in the sights. It’s not a replacement for seeing the world, it’s merely a replacement for living my life the same every day when there is plenty to be explored right here in L.A.

Once a week. A few hours at a time. Soaking in the world around me. Who’s with me? I’d love to hear your stories!

(Design by Ruthi at Camp Design Group)

Headed To Africa: Part 2

Posted by krystamasciale on April 11, 2012  |   1 Comment »

Nearly a month ago, I told you that the hubs and I would be headed to Africa this summer. If you missed it, read about the details here.

And for those of you who haven’t looked at a calendar lately … It’s almost May. How the frick did that happen? That said, we have a crap ton of work to do and we need your help.

One of the main reasons we wanted to do this trip was to invest in something significant together. One of the main reasons we didn’t want to go was money. Here’s what initially ran through our minds:

1. Why don’t we just send them all the money it would take to get us there? ($3,500 PER PERSON — flights, food for two weeks, housing and supplies for the kids)

2. If we have to fundraise for this thing, we’re out. 

Totally legitimate concerns, right? But here’s what we found after we talked to a few people who went on the trip last year:

1. After asking the kids whether or not they’d prefer money or have a group of us hang out with them for a week, they chose the relationship over the almighty dollar. That fascinated us … I don’t know many American kids who’d opt for a week at summer camp over a wad of cash.

2. We don’t like asking for help. I mean, who does? But when we started hearing stories about these kids it became less about us and more about them. So. We’re asking that you invest in these guys with us:

Kenya 2011 // Ecclesia Hollywood (Kibera) from Aaron Huisman on Vimeo.

There are two ways you can get involved:

1. You can straight up send some funds to this link: (yes, your donations are tax deductible)

-Go to http://www.churchinhollywood.com/#/giving

-Click on “Log in to Online Giving”

-Create new account or log in as returning member

-Select “Kenya Mission Team 2012” under “Fund” drop-down menu

-Choose Kenya team member’s name under “Sub Fund” drop-down menu (Krysta or Vince)

2. You can donate your services/talents for a good cause. For example:

If you’re a killer photographer you can donate the funds from your next portrait session to our trip.

If you’re a crazy awesome baker you can donate the funds from your next batch of sugary goodness to our trip (or hold a bake sale, what?!).

You guys get where we’re going with this right? There’s nothing more satisfying (to us) than using our talents for good and people love buying products when part of the profits (or all the profits) go to a good cause! If you’re interested in doing this and want some help, leave a comment and we’ll brainstorm!

And just so you know we’re putting our money where our mouth is … we’ll match up to $1,000 of the funds donated.  The kicker? We need to raise $3,500 by April 20. That’s a little more than a week. We can do this! 

We can’t wait to change the lives of these kids with you guys!! Oh, and if you aren’t passionate about this sort of thing, that’s totally fine. We’d still like to challenge you to find something to invest your time, talents or resources in by the end of summer. Take a risk, get uncomfortable and do something crazy awesome for someone who could use your help. Let’s do this!

Headed To Africa

Posted by krystamasciale on March 13, 2012  |   7 Comments »

Yep. You read it here first … the Masciales are headed to Kenya this summer. WHAT?!

We couldn’t be more excited!! I got my new passport with my not-so-new name and it needs some love in a major way. Poor little guy is so stiff and stamp less :( I think it’s more excited to hang out in Africa than we are!

Anywho, I’m sure you’re wanting more details so I’ve made you a quit and dirty list of what we’ll be up to:

Where will you be? Nairobi, Kenya.

When are you going? Late June early August.

Who are you going with? We’re going with a group from our church. (I heard the eye rolls … YES, it’s a ‘mission trip.’ But there’s more to it … DUH. Who do you think we are?)

What will you be doing? Coordinating and facilitating TWO separate week-long kid’s camps and loving on those little dudes until we pass out.

Who are you partnering with? We are super duper lucky to be partnering with two organizations on the ground in Nairobi. These ministries are kicking some serious arse in two very different capacities in the city and this trip is designed to support their efforts:

1. Home Care Spiritual Fellowship reaches out to women, me, and children who are affected by AIDS and poverty. It was created by a woman named Judy Mbugua and has already expanded to 21 branches throughout Kenya. They provide weekly meetings for prayer, support, mentorship and encouragement for 20 widows who have been affected by AIDS and are living in the Kibera Slum. These women are also receiving micro-enterprise training. The organization also provides programs for orphaned and vulnerable children. About 500 gather every saturday for meals and hang time. For most of them, it’s one of the few times they get to have a meal during the week.

2. Ghetto Light Youth reaches out to the youth living in the Kibera Slum. It was created by Abel and Milcah Wafula and is based in the slum. They recognized the need to provide something positive for the youth of Kibera and are committed to improving the quality of life for the needy youth and families. They provide Biblical mentoring, academic encouragement and micro-enterprise endeavors. They are involved with AIDS awareness/training, drug/alcohol abuse counseling and environmental issues. In the last few years, Ghetto LIght has started a micro finance loan program to get youth working and earning a living instead of working the streets to survive. They even have a soccer program which currently has 80 youth and counting!

Why now? Why this trip? Here’s the deal. The hubs and I have been wanting to something significant together to make this world a better place since we met. We try to involve ourselves in work we feel is meaningful here in L.A., but we felt like we could do more. When we started attending Ecclesia, we both felt more compelled to give back in ways that were less obvious and more uncomfortable. When we heard about this opportunity we knew this was our chance. We’ve both been in the church long enough to have seen mission trips come and go. I’ve even been on a few myself. The problem for me … I don’t feel that going on those trips added as much value to the people we worked with as I’d like to think they did. You go, you leave, you usually don’t return. Most of the time the organization you’re supposed to be supporting works extra hard to prepare for the visit and have to make necessary plans to accommodate such large groups. That’s where this is different:

For this trip, we are partnering with organizations who are working day in and day out to provide faith, hope and love to this generation of kids. We’re just there to help them execute their vision and provide extra help as they tackle such an overwhelming task of loving these kids long-term. When we leave, we’re not leaving them high and dry. They will continue the work they’ve been doing all along knowing we’re coming back the next year to help run their summer camps. For those who go back with the team year after year, they get to see the same kids which means we aren’t just there to play … we’re there to build relationships that will last. It’s a long-term investment. And not just for our church who offers support throughout the year, but for the hubs and I as well.

I love that.

I love that we’re not trying to save the world in 14 days or push our agenda. We’re just trying to let some kids know they matter and support some awesome teams of people who are working so hard to raise up a new generation of leaders in Kenya. And I love that we can go back year after year and catch up with the same kids. Gah. I’m so freaking excited!

Here’s a little taste of what we’re in for:

We’ll be letting you know how you can help soon!

Maui | Road To Hana

Posted by krystamasciale on January 6, 2012  |   No Comments »

Everyone says you HAVE to do the road to Hana if you travel to Maui. Since I couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on one of the most obvious adventures on the island, they hubs and I grabbed a well-branded CD and made sure to ask the locals where the best places to stop were. You can get one of these babies pretty much any place you stop in Maui.

The CD was actually pretty great. It came with a handy little map that indicated where each tourist stop was according to the mile markers. It also had SHORT tid bits about the area that I personally found interesting. Oh, and there are total Jurassic Park sound track rip offs for your listening pleasure in between tracks. Who doesn’t want that? My favorite part of the CD was Jamie … the narrator. He would paint these beautiful pictures of what was ahead with the words he used and then say, “If you’re doing the whole trip, this isn’t worth your stop.” Ha! Love the honesty. It saved us time so we got to see everything we actually wanted to see instead of stopping at every mile marker on the list. Nice work R2H crew!

So here’s what we did … see that yellow line around the island in the photo below? That’s the trip. We highly recommend doing the full loop instead of turning around at the last major stop. It’s a full day excursion so plan accordingly. The back side of the loop recently reopened after years of being shut down to tourists. It’s breathtaking. If you play it out right … you’ll hit that side of the mountain as the sun is setting. It’s seriously unreal. The hubs and I felt like the only people on earth for a good hour when we were heading back.

So, first up was coffee. We left before sunrise and doing this drive on an empty stomach and half awake is NOT a good idea. We highly recommend Anthony’s in Paia. In fact, we loved it so much we ate there twice during our stay. We packed a lunch for our day trip, but wish we would have known Anthony’s makes lunches specifically for adventurers tackling the Road to Hana. Dang those coolers full of sandwiches looked SO much better than what I made that morning in the dark. There are quite a few places in Paia that do Road to Hana sack lunches, so pick your poison. [NOTE: We had the eggs breakfast and it was DELISH. The coffee is top notch too.]

Now that you’ve got some fuel for the road … OH … FUEL. You need real fuel before this trip starts. Make sure your tank is FULL.

Now that you’ve got figurative and literal fuel for the road, here’s what you can expect:

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Jungle goodness. There are quite a few stops before this one, but we didn’t want to fight the tourist (nor did we want to pay to walk through a garden). This photos was taken at Ke’anae Arboretum at mile marker 16. I felt like I was in Tropic Thunder … without the Ben Stiller, Tom Cruise and the war zone, of course. We only walked about half way in and then turned around. The Rainbow Eucalyptus and overgrown greenery were well worth the detour.

Waterfalls. Lots of waterfalls. We stopped at mile marker 19 for the Upper Waikani Falls. You’ll see tons of tour buses pulled over just to snap a few photos. We were really hoping for some adventure, so we climbed down under the bridge and hiked up the stream to the pool where the falls ended. We were the ONLY people hiking so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t seem legal 😉 The trek to the pool is a little gnarly, so watch your step and BE CAREFUL. This was one of the coolest things we did on the trip.


   

Black Sand, Blow Holes and Caves. This was just stunning. At mile marker 32 you’ll have the choice to stop at Wai’anapanapa State Park (say THAT 5x fast … if at all). I loved the contrasting colors at this stop. Totally worth a hop out of the car for some black sand eye candy and a quick potty break.

Hana. We stopped here to eat our lunch and grab a quick drink. Seems like a cool place to hang but we really wanted to leave time for what was ahead. The only thing we did in Hana was stop at a red sand beach. Doesn’t it look amazing? A bit of a hike, but totally worth it. They said it was a nude beach, which is why we stopped for a drink (ha!), but when we got there we saw families with small children and NO ONE was topless. Turned out I didn’t need that glass of wine after all.

    

Bamboo Forest. We saw so many variations of beautiful landscape, but the bamboo forest topped the charts for me. This happens at mile marker 42 at Waimoku Falls and The Seven Sacred pools. It’s technically the last stop on the road to Hana. You have to pay to get into the park … don’t be a tight wad … pay the fee. We did the 20 minute hike to the Seven Pools first. Once we arrived, they were closed due to high water or some BS. I’m actually glad they were closed because we would have missed the coolest part of the trip if we were given the chance to wade in the pools. The other hike the park offers leads you to Waimoku falls (seen above). It’s a 2-mile hike and totally exhausting after a day of romping around but, again, WORTH IT. The bamboo forest was so thick it felt like dusk even though it was 2 p.m. (I’d recommend bringing a flash light if you go any later). It was SOOO quiet. The sound of the bamboo slapping together was incredible (do they have a CD with just that sound?). Once we got out of the forest and crossed a few streams, we saw the waterfall in all its glory. UH-MAZING. That’s all I can say.

Since we were making the full loop around, we decided to stop at an organic roadside coffee shop called Laulima Farm. Best coffee on planet earth. They had just roasted the beans and had them in mason jars when we pulled up. The coffee was so silky and delicious. HIGHLY recommend stopping for a cup of joe. Buy some of their super awesome fruit too while you’re at it!

This was pretty much the entire back side of the Road to Hana loop. Just plain gorgeous and so good for the soul: ocean on the left, rolling hills to your right and the sun setting on both. Sigh.

The road to Hana is legit. Do it.

The end.

Aloha!

Posted by krystamasciale on December 22, 2011  |   No Comments »

Well kids … We made it to Maui. Not gonna lie, I’m loving my first taste of Hawaii. And I don’t even miss the Christmas cold because we got fake snow at the Grove last night!! :) Talk about a drastic contrast no?

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Lots of writing is going down while I’m here so get ready!! Aloha everyone!