Clear skies, a bright spectrum of blue ocean, and lush greenery show themselves off on the hike up to the pillboxes.

Hello again, all! A couple weeks ago I was blessed with sunny Hawaii and Guam layovers which means currently as I type this I am in snowy Germany avoiding the freezing cold outside. With this job you have to accept all types of destinations- often in the same month or even week! It definitely makes packing a suitcase quite interesting! Swimsuit? Check. Snow-boots? Check! What I try my best to never forget is my camera and I’m thankful I didn’t in Hawaii!

This day was eventful from early morning to late in the evening. From breakfast we took an Uber to Pearl Harbor where we spent the early afternoon re-learning everything high school was supposed to teach us. I have to admit, I learned more in the course of a 20 minute documentary they showed us than I did in my courses at school…and that, unfortunately, is saying something. Still, it was a fascinating experience to visit Pearl Harbor. It gave me chills to learn that oil still continues to leak out from the USS Arizona. You just have to watch the water sway back and forth underneath to see the rainbow of oil that sits on top of the ocean.

From Pearl Harbor we made our way to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike in Kailua. The first few minutes of the hike may be daunting to anyone unaccustomed to rocky terrain. It required large steps and careful footing up till the first view point. There are ropes on this part to assist with the descent, which I was very thankful for after already falling on my butt once.

Still, once you get to the first view point…you just want to continue going. You will witness a full panorama of Lanikai with its bright blue waters full of kayaks that are making their way to the nearby islands.

The slippery terrain resulted in a humorous afternoon spent with the four horsemen (Sam, Lauren, Dustin, and myself.) Excellent company certainly makes any hike even more impressive.

Eventually you make it to the old military bunkers- the pillboxes. Vibrantly embroidered in vivid colors with signatures and markings of their past visitors.

It was the mixture of the ocean that appeared as if hand painted by God himself while the wind whistled through the long green grass along the mountain cliffs that left me mesmerized.

lrg_dsc01337

 


That is until I fell on my butt on the way down.

Hawaii continued to shine as the sun did its final bow before night set in. We ended our evening with the biggest slice of pizza and happy hearts after a brilliant day in beautiful Hawaii.

Seriously, how is this Earth so magical?!

 

 

 

lrg_dsc01394-1lrg_dsc01393lrg_dsc01392-1lrg_dsc01391

 

 

Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna

Travel

Oahu, Hawaii- Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Gallery

lrg_dsc00968

Hello again, friends!

This is one of my favorite places on this planet. I can only describe the aura of White Sands, New Mexico as filling. I feel full when I’m there.

As soon as I stepped out of our rented family van and started walking up the dunes it didn’t even matter that it was a popular day for the park. It doesn’t matter if it is busy at all because if you just continue walking, and if you get far enough away, it will feel as if you are completely alone there. Suddenly you don’t see any streets nor hear any vehicles in the distance. It is just you and the dunes. Oh, and a sled.

So it was the Reyes family, two sleds, our cameras, and a tradition remade on this unusually warm winter day in New Mexico. We held competitions on who could sled down faster from the steepest dunes we could find. We recorded our falls, our tumbles down, and our attempts at running back up the sand (which is so difficult).

I will always recommend people visit White Sands. If you take your passport you can even get it stamped in the visitor center. There are sunset walks, sleds to rent, and a small museum with tons of information on the geology and environment of White Sands. I specifically learned that there is water just feet below caused by a lack of drainage from the surrounding mountains which is why the gypsum does not blow away. Oh, and did you know the entire area covers two hundred and seventy five square miles?! Personally I think one of my favorite parts was learning what animals and creatures live within the Sands and spotting their tiny footprints along the dunes.

And by the end of the afternoon, as the sun continued to set behind us, far off on the mountains you could still see warm light sprinkle upon them. The sky turned a beautiful mosaic of orange and cobalt blue as we made our way over the dunes to our parked car.

As cold as I was by this point (I only had a t-shirt on) I couldn’t help but stop often and take photographs. It was too filling of a moment to pass up.

Trust me, if you want to feel…full- visit White Sands. You will laugh, you will look in wonder, and you will feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. You will feel full.

Until next time!

Mary Reyes

P.S. This is a very long photo set post! I couldn’t help but take so many photos throughout the day and honestly, there are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken scattered throughout! Plus, I love seeing the color progression throughout the set! I hope you make it to the end!

lrg_dsc00962lrg_dsc00960lrg_dsc00953lrg_dsc00963

lrg_dsc00922lrg_dsc00948lrg_dsc01005lrg_dsc01003lrg_dsc01000lrg_dsc01015

lrg_dsc01107lrg_dsc01041lrg_dsc01062

lrg_dsc01139

img_5406-1

Featuring a happily tired face!

197ed16d-4261-4673-a6df-3c00bce93e47lrg_dsc01114lrg_dsc01141lrg_dsc01147lrg_dsc01153lrg_dsc01155lrg_dsc01166lrg_dsc01163lrg_dsc01157lrg_dsc01169lrg_dsc01177lrg_dsc01178lrg_dsc01180lrg_dsc01194lrg_dsc01183lrg_dsc01182lrg_dsc01196lrg_dsc01199lrg_dsc01216lrg_dsc01239lrg_dsc01227lrg_dsc01225lrg_dsc01244lrg_dsc01250lrg_dsc01264lrg_dsc01265

If you made it this far in the photo set, thank you so so much! You deserve a “Best Reader” award!

Iphone Photos

Travel

Revisiting White Sands, New Mexico

Gallery
Personal, Travel

2017 Year Review

Hello, all! And  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Welcome, 2018!

I started 2017 in Tampa picturing my future entirely different than I do now as I finish it in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In 2017, as cheesy as it sounds, I loved and I lost. I broke my first bone. I spent more time in airplanes than in my own home. But none of that even matters anymore- none of it. I also explored more of this beautiful world. I met remarkable people. Amazing friendships became even stronger. I spent joyous holidays with my wonderful family. There is a never-ending abundance of happiness that occurred in 2017 and happiness will always be the most important thing to me. Happiness prevailed in 2017. So as I begin to picture another new year my desire to be a better person, a more honest person, and an eternally hopeful person continues to flourish. Along with that, my desire to explore this world only continues to grow.  I hope 2018 is a year of constant travel, growth, and progress. Most importantly, I hope that 2018 is full of happiness, even among hard times (because there will be). I pray happiness continues to prevail in 2018.

One of my favorite parts of the end of year is, of course, reminiscing on the travels and highlights that occurred throughout. Since flying is my job, I can’t picture the number of planes I have been on this year, but I reckon it is a high amount. As much of a roller coaster this year was every single destination I got to explore has helped make this year special. More importantly, every person, place, moment I have had the opportunity to encounter has helped heal me. To be able to say that, I am forever grateful for this year.

I revisited many familiar locations in 2017: Honolulu, Tbilisi, NYC, Tokyo. This year was also full of many firsts for me: Rota, Spain, Washington D.C., Turin, Italy, Metz, France, Dubai, UAE. Of course, as special as every place is to me there are a few key highlights of 2017 that I will hold fondly in my heart and memories. They are moments that comforted me, challenged me, and inspired me (not in any order). (Note: Yall have seen these photos and read about these trips before- sorry!)

1) Hiking Diamond Head and exploring Idar Oberstein, Germany with Per Clausen.

The destinations were amazing, but the company was the most memorable part. Therefor, a huge highlight of this year was getting to know and travel with Per. He is a superb human being with a genuine heart and a contagious smile. I got extremely lucky that crew scheduling put us together for a couple weeks of flying and adventuring. With our daily coffee dates and financial conversations, I always felt happy in his presence. Per made every destination even more memorable. I miss you always, Per!

2) Swimming with whale sharks in Cabo, Mexico.

This has always been high on my bucket list and it finally happened in 2017! We had to swim quite rapidly to keep up with the gentle creatures but my favorite moment is sitting on the deck of the boat and watching them peacefully swim right by me. This was one of the first moments this year that helped push me into realizing my love of environmental management and conservation. I hope one day to re-experience this in clearer water!

3) Sorrento, Capri, Taormina, Italy

Pretty much any layover that gets me in a swimsuit is automatically a favorite of mine. There is just something special about the Italian coast and its islands. I was at a different emotional level on all three of these layovers but I still only remember them for being full of sunshine, friends, and champagne (so how could I be upset about anything else?)

4) Moving to The Heights in Houston

Moving to my own apartment with Analeise was definitely a huge accomplishment for me. Finally I could walk around comfortably in my own home and suddenly I looked forward to coming home after a long trip. Most importantly I needed a change from the place my life was in in June. So I packed up and made a change. There really is a big difference from living in Humble (near the airport) to being more centered in Houston. After two years of living in Houston I get to explore easily, go out, and make friends. Woah.

5) Tulum, Mexico

I’ve written about what Tulum meant to me before. It was right after my breakup so you can imagine that I needed distance and fun more than anything. This was also Analeise’s and my first trip as the dynamic travel duo that we are now. Snorkeling with sea turtles and manta rays will forever be a memory ingrained in my heart. (Also the second push that is helping me realize future career goals!)

6) Budapest, Hungary

Budapest surprised me more than any location this year. How could one city be this remarkable? From the architecture to the nightlife to the scenery and landscape…I couldn’t believe I found a place that had it all (for me). I’m certainly going back and exploring more of Hungary as soon as I get a chance (maybe for my 25th?!).

7) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This was one of those layovers that reminded me how much I love the charter flying kind of lifestyle. I never would have thought I’d end up in Malaysia and one day I just…did. From taking selfies with cute monkeys to chasing waterfalls and running away from scary monkeys, Malaysia left me wanting more. 

8) Cusco and Lima, Peru

Yall already know what Peru meant to me. This was my number one travel bucket list item for 2017 and I made it happen. I made it happen despite heartache and despite frustration. That’s all I will say about Peru. I made it happen. (Also just scroll down a little for the full three part posts!)

9) Broke a hand and coincidentally got the holidays at home

*I don’t recommend this in the scenario you want holidays off of work. Being a flight attendant I always worry about getting the days off of work so I can spend time with my family for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. So even though this was a painful experience it was made easier by coincidentally falling on the latter part of the year. Maybe this was the Universe’s way of telling me I needed to spend more time at home?! Either way I listened!

10) Fall out boy concert

I feel like this is the night my year completely turned around. I felt confident again. I felt happy again. Celebrating Analeise’s birthday with dinner, a freaking awesome concert, and a night out on the town was the jump start my life needed again. Coincidentally also the night I met Kevin- Hi, Kevin!

11) Ruidoso, New Mexico

And alas, the last key highlight of 2017. Now. Here. In this cozy two story cabin with my family while WonderWoman plays on DVD. It is half an hour till 2018. We have skiied, hiked, gambled, and played in sand on our family vacation. We will eat our 12 grapes and make our list of intentions for the new year. Then we will wake up tomorrow to our last full day here. What a phenomenal start to another year of life. 

Other happy times: Tokyo Disney, Dubai, first wake boarding experience, Aggie football game, first Diego turn, Mandy’s grad school graduation, etc.

 

 

I don’t know what 2018 will bring. I do know that whatever it is, I can handle it. I know now that I am strong enough, I am brave enough, I am confident enough, I am hopeful enough to handle anything that comes my way. Before anything else, I know I have the support system in my life that will help guide me whenever I am lost.

Finally, I am thankful for this platform that allows me to express all of my silly thoughts and fun travel experiences. I am thankful for you for taking time out of your day to read this. And I hope you continue to join me on this journey.

Happy 2018, friends!

-Mary Anna

Standard
Travel

Heidelberg, Germany: Antiquariat Hatry

From the outside looking in you could not imagine the magical literary explosion that occurs in this bookstore on a bustling street in Heidelberg. Rooms upon rooms of books, photographs, movies, CD’s, and then even more books line this beautiful surprise from the moment you walk in to the basement (and beyond I’m sure). It is a serene escape from the excited chatter of Christmas markets that are occurring down the cobble-lined street.

I have to admit, the Christmas markets were remarkable, but this place…this place was my favorite part of Heidelberg. That is all I can really say.

Until next time, friends (When I’ll talk about the Christmas markets!)

Mary Anna

DSC00449-2DSC00450DSC00452-2DSC00451-2DSC00453DSC00457DSC00459DSC00464DSC00465DSC00466DSC00467DSC00468DSC00469DSC00470DSC00471DSC00472DSC00473DSC00475DSC00479

 

Standard
Personal

2017 Summary Part 1

AKA the hardest, most emotional year of my 24 years. When I envisioned the end of this year, I would have never guessed I would be where I am now. Lately I’ve caught myself laughing and saying, “thank God it’s almost over!” Sometimes I feel as if I am actually willing this year to finish faster. I replay the rough moments in my head not as a way to torture myself but as a way to reflect on what I am most proud of: that not only did I make it to the end of this year, but that my heart is intact and my spirit is alive. I am once again so cheerily hopeful about the future.

If you know me or have read some of my posts before then you know this is a big deal to me. I spent the first half of the year fighting to keep alive something that had no chance of recovery. The other chunk of time I spent in denial, feeding this toxicity as if an addiction. Then some other stuff happened like having to move out of my house and then breaking my wrist. Point is, emotionally this year was challenging. Mentally…it was devastating. Well, almost devastating. Because what I am trying to explain is that yes, this has been the hardest year of my life, but 1) I survived it and 2) in reality, a breakup (although as serious as thinking it was the “one”), being kicked out, and breaking a bone were my 2017 hardships. And I am lucky to say that. So if I’m being truthful, yes, this year sucked, but no, it wasn’t nearly as hard in retrospect as I truly thought it was while going through these things. At the time, everything was compromised: my body, my spirit, my health. So I have to ask myself: am I healthy right now as I type this? Yes. Am I whole right now as I type this? Yes. And am I constantly healing, even now as I type this? You’re darn sure I am.

So in a nutshell, it took me 12 months and a few days to finally realize and accept that not only did I survive this year, but I flourished. I am flourishing. I am stronger than ever before and that means all the crummy times in 2017 were somehow…worth it. So worth it.

So what have I learned this year? Well here are just a few things:

1) Date someone kind. Someone who remains kind over time. Someone with a kind heart. When they are no longer kind, leave. You deserve someone kind.

2) Never underestimate how important a good friend, a kickass, empowering movie, and venting are for the soul. (when I told Analeise about everything she took me to see Wonder Woman and it was the best thing for me)

3) As much as relationships are incredible, don’t lose yourself in them. Those goals you want to attain need to come first or you will always think, “what if?” The right person will help build you up and help you reach those goals. They need to be your number one fan, too.

4) When all else fails, get some perspective. For me it was snorkeling with manta rays in Tulum and hiking up mountains in Peru. You will see there is a world outside of heartache.

5) A support system will help move mountains. Trust in the process, trust in the Universe and that it knows what It’s doing, and trust in those around you. Don’t lose that trust that makes you kind.

6) Cry and scream if you need to, but never ever ever lose your faith, whatever it may be. This is all happening for a reason. (I truly believe this)

7) Move on when it’s time. Forgive, not for them, but for yourself, because you need it. Because it is what’s right.

8) One day, without even realizing it, you will be free again.

And you will care for someone again. And they will be kind. And you will once again be kind.

What I consider a really hell-ish year was made so much better because of people like my parents and sisters, Analeise, Edmar, Charlie, Kris, Laura, Sarah, Bubba, Brianda and everyone who let me vent, traveled with me, or just cheered my well-being on.

Like I said, a support system will move mountains and in 2017 it helped me move on from my biggest one.

Until next time, friends

(Which will be a lot happier of a post because it’s about my 2017 travels! Yay)

-Mary Anna

Standard
Travel

Peru 8 Day Itinerary

IMG_4878Hello again, all!

I have been asked a few times for my Peru itinerary so below I have included all I could: costs, times, and some extra information for anyone that may not travel as often. When Analeise and I planned this trip, and as we went through it, we balanced out the cheaper “backpacking” lifestyle while allowing ourselves the occasional splurge for enjoyment. I included as close to the exact costs and conversions in soles as possible, but remember currency is constantly changing and, of course, often negotiable while traveling.

For starters, the biggest monetary savings that we accomplished was booking our round-trip tickets with United miles. It cost me 30K miles and $95 to go from Houston to Cusco (with a connection in Bogota) and back to Houston from Lima. Therefore, it was necessary to purchase an extra commuter flight from Cusco to Lima, which thankfully are frequent and affordable ($90).

Click the “Read More” for the complete itinerary!

Continue reading

Standard
Travel

Peru- Peru Rail and Salineras de Maras

IMG_5044-RecoveredAlas, everyone! The third post of my Peru series. I would like to blame this ridiculous delay on my current one hand situation I seem to be in. About two weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist in two places and have been on the mend ever since. Pretty much that means I’m slow to accomplish anything from things like washing my fair to typing on the computer. I apologize for any typos I don’t catch, as typing with one hand isn’t very easy and I keep making tons of mistakes.

But here I am! Alive and intact (for the most part) and ready to share with you the last huge chuck of my Peru trip. Warning: this post is very long.

After our fears of a rainy Machu Picchu came true we stayed one more night at EcoPackers ($14). What I forgot to mention on my last post of Aguascalientes is that both Analeise and I found our llama sweaters here! Success! It is so cozy and I will always cherish it! The next morning we gathered our small packs and made our way to the train station. Somehow in the process of getting to the station I managed to lose my phone without my knowledge until I was sitting at the station. After checking the restrooms and asking around I stormed off back to the only stop we made: a small currency exchange that Analeise bought water and I bought a magnet in. Would you believe it but right on the counter where I left it was my phone, in plain daylight, with no one around. Grabbing it, I bolted off once again in fear of missing my train. The thing is, I’m already out of shape and running at that altitude (Google says it’s 6,693 feet) was no easy task. I arrived huffing and puffing but successfully holding my phone with time to spare.

Analeise and I both feel we had the perfect amount of both money-pinching and splurging on this trip. After the hydroelectrica trek and mountain hike, we were so excited to sit comfortably on Peru Rail for a couple of hours. The train ride was remarkable: free snacks and beverages and the beautiful Peruvian countryside. My favorite part of the journey was seeing this very old lady standing outside the train tracks waving to us as it went by. It helped me be reminded that simple friendliness goes a long, long way.

IMG_4920

 

Continue reading

Standard