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.



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?!







Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna


Oahu, Hawaii- Lanikai Pillbox Hike



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!






Featuring a happily tired face!


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

Iphone Photos


Revisiting White Sands, New Mexico


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.



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IMG_4742Hello, all!

After the difficult hike up to Humantay Lake, we had to make the decision on how we would reach AguasCalientes. Originally we were determined to complete the entire process on our own with only means of transportation being collectivos and a lot of walking. After the first hike kicked our bus we settled on a decision to compromise: we would take a bus to Hydroelectica and then hike to AguasCalientes. Through our hostel (Pariwana Hostel) we booked the shuttle ($15), rode for 5 hours over the steep cliffs along the Urubamba river, ate lunch, and then began the hike along the train track and river for 3 hours with a group of Mexican girls and one French girl. Remember it is an active train track so don’t get too close to it as it passes by (as Analeise learned when she tried taking a photo of the train and it briefly missed her). By the end of it, Analeise, Ana (the French girl), and myself were the only ones left after taking our time, stopping for snack and water breaks, and taking so many photos.


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Peru- Hidroelectrica Trek and Machu Picchu


IMG_4695Peru, Peru, Peru. I am not sure how I’m going to explain this trip. Sure, I can write out the details: the places we went, the things I saw, so on, so forth. But how do I begin to explain what it meant to me? I’ve decided to break this trip up to several parts- trying to cram it all into one post would get extremely lengthy and we would all lose focus halfway through. Somehow I’ll try to fit into words how awing this time was for me. And if in the scenario I do not fulfill that duty then I hope my photos will. Continue reading


Peru- Cusco and Humantay Lake