My Top 18 Moments of 2018

This is the first time I’ve done a year-end round-up at the start of the next year, but with the bulk of our travel coming in December, I needed to hold out to tell you about the absolute best experiences of 2018. From road tripping Portugal and New Zealand to hiking through a river in a national park and flying over the Great Barrier Reef, 2018 was filled with some magical, memorable moments!

Waking up in Prague on New Year’s Day. Even though we were flying home that day, there’s nothing like ringing in a new year in a foreign country. We were lucky enough to start and end 2018 in far-flung destinations.

Charles Bridge in Prague.

Walking down to the breathtakingly beautiful beaches of the Algarve. Confession? I wanted to visit the Algarve Region of Portugal for one very specific reason: to take a boat ride inside Benagil Cave—a dreamy place that has adorned my desktop wallpaper and Instagram feed for years. Being the planner that I am, I researched nearby towns and things to do. I knew it was all about beaches, beaches, beaches. But gazing down at the beach outside our Airbnb—Praia da Dona Ana—I realized that no amount of time spent on Google Images could have prepared me for the jawdropping views this part of Portugal serves up.  

Climbing up to the storybook castles of Sintra, Portugal. And climb, you must—seemingly into the clouds. But being out of breath seems fitting for a place of such beauty. We visited the famed Pena Palace and the neighboring Castelo dos Mouros. Sintra is located an easily-accessible 30 minutes outside of Lisbon, but feels a world away.

Pena Palace

Discovering a hidden gem: São Miguel, the Azores. If there’s one word I’d use to describe Portugal, it’s “underrated.” And nowhere is that truer than in the Azores, a collection of nine islands some two hours west of Portugal, often called the Hawaii of the Atlantic. We visited SãoMiguel, the largest of the islands, again for one explicit reason: to glimpse the view from Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, an absolutely otherworldly spot you have to see to believe. But there was SO much more to this magical place.

Indiana Jonesing at a hidden waterfall. The moments of pure awe on this island were numerous, but one of our favorites was a trek through a lush, jungle-like setting, toward what, we weren’t exactly sure. Just when we were about to turn around, Kyle convinced me to walk a little further, and this beauty came into view.   

Parque Natural da Ribeira dos Caldeiroes.

Airbnb for the win in the Azores! I love Airbnb, and I’ve stayed in some pretty awesome ones around the world, but the place we stayed in Vila Franca do Campo was over-the-top in every way. The accommodations were lovely, but the hospitality was unbelievable. Our incredible host stocked our kitchen with all kinds of treats from homemade dessert bread and rolls for sandwiches to sweet pineapple that grows on the island. And check out this view! Their chapel is modeled after the blue-domed churches of Santorini, a nod to their Greek heritage, and they hold weddings and events on site.

Seeing the Chihuly ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Vegas. I’ll admit it: I’ve always had a morbid curiosity when it comes to Sin City. When Kyle had to go to a conference there for the third year in a row, I cashed in some of my miles to go with him. While he was busy learning about computers—or something like that—I enjoyed a delightful spa day at the Bellagio. I have given many tours at The Corning Museum of Glass where I work, often noting the installations of Dale Chihuly’s art in crazy places around the globe—including the ceiling of the Bellagio. It was fun to finally see it in person. And yes—it was about the only thing I enjoyed in Vegas!

Getting wet on what has to be one of the most unique hiking trails in the U.S.: The Narrows. Walking through knee-deep water in a river only 20 to 30 feet wide in spots with thousand-foot cliff faces towering overhead is a surreal experience –but it’s the reason that countless people visit Zion National Park each year. It’s harder than it looks: dodging underwater rocks, trying not to faceplant, all the while remembering to look up and take in the enormity of it all.

Returning to Red Rock Country. It’s no secret we love Sedona, Arizona. We named our first puppy after this place, after all! And it was an absolute joy to visit a second time, spending a few days taking in the colors of the awe-inspiring red rocks. Here’s our complete guide from our first trip.

Seeing the Hollywood sign. I’m a big movie buff, and while I’ve never had a particular yearning to visit L.A., I didn’t turn down the opportunity to spend 24 hours there on the way to New Zealand. It was fun to see the Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, and catch glimpses of some of the studios where movie magic is made during a whirlwind city tour.

Crossing the International Date Line and landing in the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. It was beyond exciting to see the International Date Line getting closer and closer on the in-flight map—and I purposely stayed awake to watch us cross it. I was beyond thrilled to bid adieu to snowy New York and say hello to warm late-spring temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere!

Nerding out in New Zealand. One of our first stops in New Zealand was Hobbiton, the fantastical village built for the filming of Lord of the Rings. Kyle loves the books and movies, and while I don’t see the appeal, I adored this colorful land built into a lush New Zealand hillside. Further explorations into Nerdom sent us to Gollum’s Pool, a gorgeous waterfall in Tongariro National Park, and WETA Workshop, the movie studio behind LOTR, Avatar, and many other movies.

Loving the Lupins in Lake Tekapo. Come for the stargazing, stay for the weeds. Yes, these gorgeous flowers that beckon tourists from their cars and into the fields are considered weeds in New Zealand! They only bloom in December and January, so I was thrilled that we chose the right time of year to venture to the shores of Lake Tekapo on the South Island. Many people flock here to gaze at the sky instead of the ground, as it’s one of the only International Dark Sky Reserves in the Southern Hemisphere. Although clouds prevented me from trying out my newly acquired star trail photography skills, we still did a few photoshoots in the lupins.

Flightseeing over Milford Sound and the Great Barrier Reef. I firmly believe one of the best ways to experience a new place is from the sky. Milford sound is quite a long drive from Queenstown, NZ, but a mere 35 minutes by plane—flying over lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and snow-capped mountains. With Air Milford’s “Fly/Cruise/Fly” package, we enjoyed two incredible flights and a nature cruise in between! A week later, we took a seaplane ride over Whitehaven Beach and the Great Barrier Reef on Christmas Day! Magic.

Christmas in the Whitsunday Islands. After a 14-day road trip through New Zealand, we knew we were going to want a low-key Christmas. Well, as low-key as being 10,000 miles away from home can get! The silica sands of Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands had long been calling to me, so we booked a lovely stay at Coral Sea Resort in Airlie Beach—complete with sweeping sea views from a balcony boasting a hammock and hot tub. It was absolute perfection, and I can’t wait to go back.

Saying “g’day” to our exotic friends of Australia. Kangaroos, koalas, and cassowaries—oh, my! We spent an entire day at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and had the best time! It’s absolutely massive and so well done. I wanted to take home a koala friend.

Soaking in Sydney. This amazing city quickly jumped to the top of my “I have to live here someday” list. We were only in Sydney for three days—along with literally millions of other tourists for New Year’s—but I noticed the vibe immediately. There may be a ton of people around, but everyone is content to leisurely sip a drink or sit to take in the Opera House. Life is slower-paced, but you can tell that this place is happening. And the surrounding areas are gorgeous! We spent a day at Manly Beach with our globetrotter friends and could see why they choose to return here each year after months of travel.

Seeing fireworks explode over Sydney Harbor on New Year’s Eve. Need I say more? OMG, serious bucket-list material.

Bonus: Flying to Hawaii on January 1! If New Year’s Eve in Sydney isn’t good enough, New Year’s Day on O‘ahu (plus five more) is the icing on a very delicious cake.

Waikiki vibes.

Meandering Maui: The Road to Hana

Recommended Time: One full day, with optional overnight

They say the journey is the destination, and nowhere have I found that to be truer than on the Road to Hana. It’s a must-do for any visit to Maui. It’s short in distance—only 42 miles—but it tests you in ways that perhaps no other stretch of American road does. The drive is a doozy one. 600+ hairpin curves and 59 bridges, more than half of which are only wide enough for one car, is enough to test the patients of the saintliest of drivers. But the rewards are plentiful. Around each curve, a new jaw-dropping view. From black-sand beaches to roadside waterfalls, the journey to Hana is a picturesque one to say the least. It’s not for the faint of heart, but should you choose to embark upon it, you’re in for an extraordinary adventure!

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Before hitting the road, download the Maui Road to Hana GPS Guide on iTunes. As you drive, it will alert you to upcoming scenic vistas, secret swimming holes, and lots of fascinating facts and history.

Make sure you get a full tank of gas before beginning you journey. Get an early start—no later than 7 a.m.! Paia is the place to go to grab a quick breakfast and your picnic lunch. Call ahead to Anthony’s Coffee Co., and pick up your healthy, fresh lunch, with a $10 refundable cooler rental.


It doesn’t take long to get to your first suggested stop. At Mile Marker #2, you’ll find Twin Falls, a family-owned bio-diverse farm. A short, easy walk from the parking lot will get you to Lower Falls, or a one-mile hike on a slippery, but beautiful trail will get you views of the Upper Falls. Take your first dip of the day! Make sure to grab some fresh-squeezed sugarcane juice or coconut candy before getting back on the road.

A bit past Mile Market #10, stop at the Garden of Eden and Botanical Arboretum for scenes straight out of Jurassic Park—no, really! The 26 acres of trails of tropical rain forests filled with unique Hawaiian flowers were featured in the opening scene of the movie.

Waianapanapa State Park at Mile Marker #32 is the perfect place to set up that picnic lunch. With black-sand beaches, lava tubes, rock arches, and churning waves, this is classic East Maui scenery you’ll want to take some time to appreciate.

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Soon, you’ll arrive in Hana, a sleepy village with less than 1,000 permanent residents. There’s not much there, but after making the journey, you’ll want to get out at Hana Bay Beach Park. Go for a quick swim and enjoy the large, black-sand beach before continuing on past Hana.

Beach on the way to Hana

Beach on the way to Hana

You’ll want to venture just a bit farther to Mile Marker #42: ‘Ohe’o Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. Part of Haleakala National Park, this is one of the best stops along the Road to Hana—even considered a must-see by locals! Freshwater pools cascade down into the ocean, creating perfect natural swimming pools. Ask about weather conditions before taking the short walk from the parking lot. This is a prime place for flash flooding, and you don’t want to be caught there when that happens!

Oheo Gulch.

Oheo Gulch.

After soaking in the pools, it’s time to do an about-face, and venture back to Western Maui. You can decide to make the trip over two days and spend the night near Hana. Travaasa Hana is a remote, incredibly luxurious place to say, and was voted the No. 1 resort in Hawaii by Condé Nast Traveler’s in 2011. If you choose to make the full trek in one day, aim to get back to Paia and Kahului around sunset.

Do you have any other favorite stops along the Road to Hana?


Anthony's Coffee Co.

Anthony's Coffee Co., Hana Highway, Paia, HI, United States

Hana Bay Beach Park

Hāna Bay, Maui County, HI, United States

Oheo Gulch

Oheo Gulch, Hāna, HI, United States

Anthony's Coffee Co.

Anthony's Coffee Co., Hana Highway, Paia, HI, United States

Hana Bay Beach Park

Hāna Bay, Maui County, HI, United States

Oheo Gulch

Oheo Gulch, Hāna, HI, United States

Photo Byte Friday: America

Feeling patriotic in San Francisco.
Feeling patriotic in San Francisco.

In honor of the Fourth of July, this week’s #FriFotos theme is America. Here are a few of my favorite patriotic symbols I’ve found in the Land of the Free.

The flag flies over Sedona's red rocks.

The flag flies over Sedona’s red rocks.

A totem eagle in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Kyle poses with an eagle totem in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Me and the Washington Monument in DC.

Me and the Washington Monument in DC.

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Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

Photo Byte Friday: Entrances

Gateway to Napa Valley Wine Country.
Gateway to Napa Valley Wine Country.

This week’s FriFotos theme is “Entrances.” For me, that means passageways into something new and exciting, or catching a glimpse of beauty.

Outside a chalet in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.

The entrance to Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, Washington.

A peek through the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.

A glimpse into a beautiful cave along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii.

Entrance into a garden at Middleton Place in Charleston, South Carolina.

A moment captured from the entrance to a vineyard in Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York.

And just for fun, I’m standing at the entrance to Google in Palo Alto, California!

Photo Byte Friday: Black and White

My favorite black and white friends!
My favorite black and white friends!

I’ve been posting “Photo Bytes” for a while now—giving you a glimpse of a destination. Each week, there is a themed photo sharing event called FriFotos, which is just plain fun, so I’m going to start sharing my favorite photos each week based on that particular theme. I hope you enjoy Photo Byte Fridays!

This week’s theme is Black and White. I love photos that are completely devoid of color. There’s something magical about them. They have a timeless quality. They’re a perfectly preserved memory—a captured moment from journeys gone by.

Timeless tranquility in Charleston, South Carolina.

Unwavering oaks of the South.

The journey ahead in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia.

A fleeting sunset kiss in St. Lucia.

I love creating black and white photos of places that hold a lot of history. They’re recognizable. Everyone knows the stories they have to tell. But it’s as if the life has been removed from them, and they stand silent, frozen in a moment.

Alcatraz sits in the San Francisco Bay. This was during the 2013 government shutdown when National Park land was closed, and thus, no one was able to visit the island—which made it all the more eerie. I was able to visit the following year.

The USS Arizona Memorial is anchored over the sunken ship in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“No day shall erase you from the memory of time.” -Virgil

Welcome to Byte-Size Travel

Dinner on Oahu
Dinner on Oahu

Hey, there! Welcome to Byte-Size Travel. We’re so glad you’ve decided to follow along on our travel adventures!

Wondering what the heck we’re all about and why we decided to start a travel blog? Check out our About Us page.

This site is a definite work-in-progress, as blog tend to be. We’ve already got lots of great content for you to check out, and we’ll try to add more every week. For now, you’ll find some fun posts about our trips over the last couple of years, as well as a bunch of posts about a study abroad I did in Florence, Italy, back in the fall of 2010. I decided to move them over to our new site because, while I treated them as more of a journal than a travel blog, there’s still lots of great travel stories set in some very cool places!

Also check out our Photo Bytes section which we hope will be a fun feature of the site.

Over the next few months, we’ll be highlighting the best of our past trips, and sharing stories from our upcoming travels with you. We’ve got quite the travel schedule for this fall and early winter! We’re headed to Disney World and Sanibel Island for our anniversary this week, then Cancun the following week, San Francisco a month later, and Costa Rica for Christmas! Some is for work, some for pleasure – but we’ll always make time for a little exploring.

We are also planning to share quite a bit of information about the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York – the place we’re lucky to call home. We’ve both lived here for the vast majority of our lives, and have a great deal of information to share! From award-winning wineries (more than 130 of ’em!) to world-class museums, we’ll help you discover why the Finger Lakes should be on your bucket list.

Check back often; we’ve got lots of adventures to share with you! Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!


Kim & Kyle


Byodo-In: My Old Stomping Grounds

Byodo-In, a beautiful temple nestled in the Valley of the Temples.

I was born on the island of Oahu, where I lived for the first 3 years of my life thanks to my father’s stint in the US Marine Corps (thanks dad!). I’ve always had bits and pieces, and general impressions of my time in Hawaii floating around in my memory that’s been augmented by pictures and some home movies. Despite spending only my earliest years in Hawaii, I’ve always identified that more as my home than upstate New York, where I’ve lived most of my life. From a young age, I swore I’d make my way back just as soon as I could – I just never imagined it would take 21 years to make my first trip back.

So, when Kim and I decided to make our way there, I was more excited than I have ever been as we boarded that 12-ish hour flight from JFK to HNL, but exactly how much this meant to me didn’t settle in until I saw Oahu come into view. The weather was perfect as we landed and I could see the island that I was born on in all its beauty for the first time in 21 years.  I was thrilled. I felt like I was home.

Kim and I had only lined up one full day for ourselves on Oahu – we tend to travel fast and try to do as much as we possibly can. In all honesty, I think we were there mostly for me – Kim was more excited at the time for our days on Kauai and Maui. Given this small window of time, we had planned out our day on Oahu in quite a bit of detail. I was insistent that we visited Pearl Harbor, even though I had never visited when I lived in Hawaii because of my interest in World War II history. You can read more about that excursion here.

The other big thing on my list may seem strange. I desperately wanted to visit Byodo-In – a Buddhist temple that my mom had taken me to a number of times. We went because it was a beautiful, open space and – well, it was cheap. Basically, it was a nice alternative to the beach (not that you really need one!) for young kids to visit. I had vague memories of a huge bell that I used to ring, the red of the temple and a ton of koi. What I didn’t remember were the mosquitoes.

Still, Byodo-In is beautiful and a great place to visit that doesn’t get too overwhelmed by tourists. It’s quiet and offers a nice change of pace from the crowded beaches of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. Byodo-In is nestled back in a cemetery known as Valley of the Temples Memorial Park a few minutes away from Kaneohe (my old home town). It’ll run you $3.00 per adult ($1.00 for kids) to get in to the grounds. After a short, slow drive into the valley, you’ll come to a small parking area.

You’ll cross a short bridge and arrive on the main temple grounds. Byodo-In is a smaller replica of a temple of the same name in Uji, Japan, and it is beautiful. Koi ponds surround the temple and they are absolutely jam packed with fish. Black swans, turtles, frogs and peacocks (as well as the aforementioned mosquitoes – bring some good bug spray) can also be found on the grounds. The bell, known as Bon-sho (sacred bell), is near the entrance and is rung to purify the mind and bring you happiness. Be prepared to wait just a few minutes while the small handful of other visiting families ring the bell and get their pictures. Afterwards, you can make your way to the temple or stop by the meditation pavilion.

You’ll need to remove your shoes before entering the temple out of respect. Inside stands a 9-foot tall, golden Buddha, which is remarkable to see. After stopping in to see the Buddha, you can make your way to the small gift shop and purchase a pouch of food for the koi. It sounds silly, but you should absolutely do this. There are so many of the fish in the koi ponds that it is really entertaining to watch them swarm over each other trying to fight it out for the food you toss.

You don’t need long to visit Byodo-In. It’s a half-hour or hour trip at most, but it can be an interesting and beautiful little side trip. If you are big in to visiting places where TV or movies have been shot, apparently the temple has been worked into episodes of Lost, Magnum P.I. and Hawaii Five-O.

Overall, I was surprised at how well I remembered Byodo-In and I’m really glad we visited. Beyond my personal reasons for wanting to go, we got some nice pictures and experienced something a little different. Also, after spending the rest of the day surrounded by other tourists, it was refreshing to go someplace a little calmer to round out our day.

What to know if you go

Admission: $3.00/adult, $2.00/seniors, $1.00/children.

Bring your bug spray!



47-200 Kahekili Highway
Kaneohe, HI 96744


47-200 Kahekili Highway
Kaneohe, HI 96744

Pearl Harbor: Reflecting on the Past

U.S.S Arizona Memorial
The U.S.S Arizona memorial.

Something you all will learn about me is that beyond travel and video games (and Kim *winks*), I have a passion for history with a particular interest in World War II. I’ve long-since devoured Ambrose’s works (I’m looking at my copy of Citizen Soldiers right now) and made my way through every historical narrative and memoir from the war I can get my hands on. Works by veterans such as E.B. ‘Sledgehammer’ Sledge, Robert ‘Lucky’ Leckie, William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere and Edward ‘Babe’ Heffron grace my library as some of my favorite books. I attribute much of this interest and respect for veterans of all wars to my father: a former Marine and a veteran of the Gulf War.

It was due to my father’s military career that I have the extreme honor of having been born on and lived for a time on Oahu. In my youth, my parents never took me over to Pearl Harbor, but as an adult, I could not wait to visit the site with an understanding of the event. Let’s get this out of the way really quick in case you missed it in that last sentence (Beware – the rest of this paragraph may sound a bit preachy or self-righteous. I’d call it cautionary, but you may want to skip ahead just a tiny bit if you have young kids and don’t want to be told how to parent by a kid-less punk).

War memorials demand a certain amount of respect and are not exactly high on the “thrill factor” – this is by design. People go to these places to garner an understanding of our history and to pay respects to those who fought and died to build that history. I don’t want to dig into the politics of any conflict as that goes well beyond what we want to cover here – what I’m trying to get at is that places like this are a somber, often humbling experience meant to prevent us from forgetting our mistakes so that we don’t end up repeating them. Which brings me to this: war memorials are not really a good family oriented outing with respect to young kids. Those of you with kids know your kids much better than I do (I’d hope) so use your best judgement when visiting lest you get scowled at by the likes of me.

That being said, Pearl Harbor is a fantastic place to visit for those looking to gain a bit of perspective on the leading pretense for the United States finally joining WWII. Kim and I visited as part of a whirlwind, daylong tour of Oahu. We had booked a tour with Pearl Harbor Tours. As we were trying to cram a lot of our own activities into one day, we were looking for a short tour and their Pearl Harbor & Historic Honolulu City Tour fit the bill perfectly. They picked us up right from our hotel bright and early in a small tour bus in downtown Honolulu, got us into Pearl Harbor right when it opened and had us back in about 5 hours – we were back by lunch. Our driver was great (his name escapes me) and extremely informative.

The drive along Waikiki to H1 towards Pearl Harbor was nice. Waikiki is full of fun resorts, touristy shops and restaurants and the beach is gorgeous. The real fun for me though, was getting to see the hospital where I was born as we made our way along H1: the just-so-lovely, sprawling monstrosity that is the Triply Army Medical Center. Take a look:

Nice, isn’t it?

Soon enough we had reached Pearl Harbor: a gorgeous, well harbor. Even if some of your party is just interested in some beautiful pictures, bring them along. The worst that happens is that they learn something. One of the first things I said to Kim as we were wandering about was something along the lines of “While Pearl Harbor was a terrible tragedy, at least there is some solace that those who went down with their ships rest in such a beautiful spot.”

When you arrive at Pearl Harbor, the obvious main attraction and focal point for your view is the memorial platform erected over the U.S.S Arizona. This beautiful monument serves to remind you of the lives lost on December 7, 1941. It was recommended to us that we take the early tour so that we could get a good time for the boat that will take you out to this platform. Apparently, on busy days you can miss out if you don’t get there soon enough. We still had almost two hours to wait and we got their right when it opened. That said, there’s a few nice attractions to take in while you wait for your boat. First, there’s the view of the harbor, (as stated – beautiful).

The grounds of the memorial welcome area are well groomed and feature a number of informational plaques and pictures showing how the ships were arranged on that historic day. Quotes from survivors of the attack are engraved on some of the displays, lending some humanity and insight into an event most of us cannot begin to comprehend for ourselves. Additionally, a handful of very detailed and extremely well done exhibits are inside some of the buildings. Highlights include the extended video briefing on Pearl Harbor (you will receive a short version just before boarding the boat to the U.S.S Arizona), newspapers showing the headlines of the attack and other interesting artifacts from the attack. We found that the two exhibits, “Road to War” and “Attack”, while compact, took up a good chunk of the time we had prior to boarding our craft out to the U.S.S Arizona.

It is heartbreaking, but hauntingly beautiful.

The real highlight though is actually reaching the U.S.S Arizona memorial. As you approach, you get a better view of the U.S.S Missouri (the site of surrender of the Empire of Japan – where WWII effectively ended). This ship stands as a reminder that the tragedy surrounding you was not allowed to fade into antiquity and those that fought to defend the harbor were not lost in vain. Surrounding the Arizona memorial are markers indicating where other American ships were damaged or sunk.

The US flag flies above the memorial, fluttering gently in the trade winds. Inside, an air of reverence takes hold of you and your boat mates. At the back is a list of the US Navy and US Marine Corps crew who died aboard the U.S.S Arizona. Small barricades politely remind visitors to stay back and reflect so that everyone can get a good view of this wall of 1177 names. In the center of the platform, a Navy Officer will perform a changing of the colors. The center of the platform has some large viewing cutouts so that you can see the ship below you. Fish glide gently about it and you can still see some slicks of oil and rust floating away in the waves. Some of the taller portions of the ship still poke up from beneath the waves. It is heartbreaking, but hauntingly beautiful.

I have a passion for history and visiting Pearl Harbor proved to be a wonderful, insightful experience. I want to understand history from the point of view of the people who lived it, particularly WWII history because it shaped the world as we know it today. History was made at Pearl Harbor and we are still dealing with the repercussions in many ways today and visiting it in person, no matter how much you’ve read about the events of December 7,1941, will undoubtedly affect you and teach you more than you could ever learn from reading or watching movies. That being said, I feel like visiting Pearl Harbor has provided me with new insights to carry to my other passion: game development.

I personally believe that done well, games offer us a window into things that we don’t understand that is unlike any other media in existence. Games are interactive and experiential and I think that narrative focused games could do a lot to help us understand our history while still proving entertaining. I’m in the camp that thinks WWII games should make a comeback using the best technology we have available. I don’t believe that the “great” WWII game has been made yet. There is no Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers of World War II video games yet. Some have captured moments of the conflict – the D-Day sequence in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, the Pearl Harbor scene in Medal of Honor: Rising Sun and countless other moments of WWII have been portrayed and often done well in games like Call of Duty and Brothers in Arms, but what these games often fail to capture are the extremely human parts of World War II – the parts contained and focused on heavily in most of the memoirs I’ve ever read. Combat was absolutely a huge part of WWII and should be a focus of (almost) any game set in the conflict, but most of these games fail to take on or involve (cut-scenes don’t count) the player in the tragedy, heart-break, triumph, humor and brotherhood/unity that were part of the carnage.

This isn’t a slight to the developers of the titles I mentioned above – I understand budget and technology constraints, but with games like The Last of Us or the poorly titled, but woefully underrated Spec Ops: The Line coming out now, I think we’ve learned a lot over the past decade and that we should take into account. In short, the first “great” WWII game of Saving Private Ryan caliber will be exhaustively researched and all respect will be given to the veterans and politics of the time in order to give the player the most comprehensive experience that you possibly can. (And hey – if you’re hiring to make a World War II game, I’m definitely available *wink*).

What to know if you go

Pearl Harbor Tours

The tour we took was the Pearl Harbor & Historic Honolulu City Tour, but there are plenty of options.

Phone: 808-737-3700


Pearl Harbor

1 Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, HI 96818

Pearl Harbor

1 Arizona Memorial Place
Honolulu, HI 96818

Photo Bytes: Beautiful Landscapes of Hawaii

So many things of beauty in Hawaii!

There are so many gorgeous landscapes in Hawaii. We thought we’d share some of our favorite photos from the three islands we visited: Oahu, Kauai, and Maui.

Waikiki Beach

As seen on Oahu

The Mystique of Kauai

Sunsets and Beaches in Kauai

Maui Marvels

Dramatic Na Pali Coast: 3 Inspiring Views

Anyone who has researched the Hawaiian island of Kauai has most definitely encountered stunning scenes of the Na Pali Coast. It’s pretty impossible to avoid them. Pinterest is filled with them, and I see it pop up in my Facebook feed nearly every day. It has this mystical, other-worldly beauty that has long captivated all who are lucky enough to witness it.

Kyle and I were two such lucky people last August when we visited Kauai as part of our three-island anniversary trip. Now, there are lots of ways to experience the Na Pali Coast, but the traditional way people see it are about the least traditional ways you can imagine. Only about 10 percent of Kauai is accessible by car, leaving the rest to be explored by foot, air, or sea. If we’d had more time—and any ambition to hike 11 miles—we could have followed the Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast. But since we’re less than athletic, we opted for viewing the coastline via helicopter, catamaran, and canyon rim!

By Air

The dramatic coastline first came into view as we rounded the island on the hour-long “Private Island” tour with Mauna Loa Helicopters. We chose the company because they allowed for a “doors-off” tour. I captured unadulterated views of the magical Na Pali with my camera. It has this way of leaving you totally speechless—and after the tour, you wonder if it was all just part of some fantastic dream.

By Sea

That same evening, we boarded the Southern Star Na Pali Dinner Sunset Sail with Capt. Andy’s Sailing. The four-hour cruise began with cocktails and longing on the front of the catamaran, feeling the sea spray on our faces. We saw a pod of dolphins playing in the waves, and watched flying fish jump in front of our boat. Then we saw it—those spectacular cliffs from an entirely new angle. They almost take on this foreboding appearance when you’re gazing up at them instead of looking down from a helicopter. It’s one of a handful of times in my life when I’ve gazed upon something so gargantuan and felt inconceivably small. After the requisite number of pictures are taken in front of the cliffs, a delicious meal is served on the return trip—along with gorgeous sunset views.

By Land

The following day, we got a third viewing of Na Pali by a very happy accident. We decided to venture up the Waimea Canyon. We’d see this by helicopter the previous day, too, and wanted a closer look. The reds of the earth are like nothing we’d ever seen! At the very top, we pulled off at the Kalalau Lookout. Now, if I’d done my research, I would have known about the dramatic views, but not knowing was almost better! Standing 4,000 feet above sea level, the lookout gives you a dead-on view of the Na Pali Coast—one perspective we hadn’t yet seen. Some of my very favorite pictures from our Hawaii trip came from this very spot. I highly recommend a visit!

No matter how you choose to view the Na Pali Coast—by air, sea, hike, etc.—just make sure you take in the views on your trip to Kauai. It is truly a sight to behold, and will stay with you long after you leave. Trust me.


What to know if you go:

Kauai Helicopter Tours by Mauna Loa Helicopters
Tours start at $274/pp
3656 Ahukini Road
Lihue, HI 96766
Phone: (808) 652-3148(808) 652-3148

Southern Star Na Pali Dinner Sunset Sail with Capt. Andy’s Sailing
$149/pp (book online to save $10)
4353 Waialo Rd #1A-2A
Eleele, HI 96705
Phone:(808) 335-6833(808) 335-6833

Kalalau Lookout
Located at the 18 mile marker on Kokee Road on a drive up Waimea Canyon

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