Eat, Drynk, & Be Merrie!

Renaissance Greeter

Stepping through the gates of Fairhaven is like walking into a fairytale. From the moment you cross that threshold you are transported to a captivating fantasy land complete with a cartoon-like medieval village. Countless characters are dressed the part from head to toe in some of the most elaborate get ups you will ever see, as well as those that are the epitome of peasantry.


The storybook village is jam packed with entertainment that offers something for people of all ages. It is nearly impossible to see and do everything the Renaissance Fair offers in one single visit, although that didn’t stop us from trying our best!

Medieval Village

As you traipse through the open air market filled with artisan shops, kitchens, games and people powered rides, you are inundated by peddlers of all sorts. If you have a problem with saying no, I suggest you fake deaf and keep on walking. My trick was to laugh and keep walking, it worked pretty well. And because everyone is a comedian in this place it was all in good fun. As a matter of fact, I laughed so much that my abs were sore the next day!

Barely Balanced

Here in Fairhaven, entertainment abounds with live shows running non-stop throughout the day. If you’re looking for a chuckle the stage performances should be your cup of tea. We managed to catch a new show just added this year called, Barely Balanced, a trio of daredevils who were an absolute riot!

Purple Knight

We also joined the mass of spectators at the Jousting Tournaments, which took place at three different times during the day. These exhibitions draw the largest crowds so make it to the arena early for choice seating.

Jousting Tourney

Wandering can get you into trouble when you're in between spectacles as there are so many different things to spend your money on in this place. I can imagine that going with a group of kiddos might be quite expensive due to the games and rides sprinkled throughout the village. My friend and I decided to be a little adventurous ourselves and chose to take a tumble on the Pirates Assault Catapult. It was exhilarating!

Note to self: Next time do this prior to stuffing face!

Speaking of stuffing can find a number of things to feast on throughout the village lanes. We had a turkey leg (or two) & a scotch egg to name a few. At last year's festival we waited too long before deciding to try one of those tasty orbs so we missed out, but not this time! Oh my goodness they are so delicious. I bet you we never make that mistake again :D

Scotch Egg

Just before the cannon blows and the gates close, we had time to observe one last show. Dexter Tripp is a crazy, show-off stuntman who has a penchant for putting himself into danger.

Demented Dextre Tripp

We witnessed him walk across a flaming tightrope and juggle with a chainsaw, now that's entertainment! I really like that such a dynamite day ended up with something on fire! I'm such a pyro.

Dextre Tripp

Even if you're there from open till close, you are bound to miss a thing or two. Two days would be ideal, but at $20 a pop all one can afford is [a] day (not to mention that its 2 hours away located just outside of Charlotte, NC). However, if the admission is what would keep you away, I would think about attending the opening weekend when they offer a two for one deal. We hoped to do that this season but I was just getting back from Hawaii and there was no way! Maybe next year when we go, we'll dress up with all of the other faire folk for the full experience! :D Until next time fare-thee-well my good fellows. HUZZAH!!!!!!!!

Additional Info:
~North Carolina Renaissance Festival - website

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Honolulu's Most Popular Hikes

It's hard to go to Hawaii and not commune with nature. However, there are some really great things you can do to immerse yourself even farther instead of sticking to the white, sandy beaches. My favorite way to do this is by taking a hike! The island of Oahu is riddled with trails if you know where to look, but there are two trails in particular that get all of the praise. So popular, in fact, that these outdoor adventures can see hundreds of tourists everyday! The two favored hikes in Honolulu are very different from one another in the realm of landscape and atmosphere. Now, two hikes in one day may sound like a bit too much, but I chose to do so because they were very close to one another. And since I was staying on the other end of the island, I figured I should hit them both up on the same day.

Manoa Falls

My first stop was the Manoa Falls trail located just outside of Honolulu in Manoa Valley. I am a sucker for waterfalls, so I had to get a glimpse of this 160-foot tall mammoth. Since this unbelievably lush rainforest was deserted at this hour of the morning (7:30am), I decided that I would forgo taking pictures until I reached the end only because I thought that it would stay that way.

Banyan Tree

I walked amidst the gigantic Banyan trees flanked by the everpresent stream. As I made my way up the narrow pathway, portions of the trail were framed by bamboo forests. I found this trail to have a very gentle grade, and at only 1 mile each way, it's one almost anyone could undertake. One thing to be careful of on this particular trail is the mud, because it can be slippery! It receives quite a bit of rain from what I have read, although maybe it hadn't rained much lately, because the cascade was meager. It wasn't too terribly disappointing though, since it took little effort to get there.

Bamboo Lined Path

Remember how I told you that I saved taking pictures until after I reached the falls? Yeah, well, that was a HUGE mistake! On my way down I passed numerous guided tour groups that made it nearly impossible to get a shot without someone being in the way. That is the last time I wait to take photos again!! Seriously. Who needs a tour guide to take a hike? I don't. Nature is free :D

Purple Flower

Parking, however, is not! I didn't find this out until I got back to the Jeep where a little yellow note asking me to see the attendant regarding payment was stuck to my window. Be forewarned that they charge $5 to park in the parking lot at the trail head. I got away with only paying $2 because I claimed stupidity. Sucka! Seriously, though. I didn't see any signs that said there was a charge, and I certainly didn't overlook an attendant!

Concrete Start

The next stop, Diamond Head Crater, is considered the most popular trail. It likely sees twice the amount of hikers that Manoa Falls does. Unlike the gentle grade of the last trail, this one is much more vigorous. Even though you start off on a concrete path that seems forgiving, it quickly morphs into switchback city!

Switchback City!

From the crater floor to the summit you will climb 560 feet in less than a mile (0.8 to be exact). By the time you weave your way through the switchbacks, you are begging for mercy as the sun is blazing and the sweat starts pouring. It would do you good to be very well hydrated before attempting this trail unless you are a fan of fainting.

99 Steps?!?!?!

You begin to think that the worst is over, but that's when you are met with a steep concrete stairway consisting of 74 steps! Afterward, you get a chance to cool off in the tunnels that take you below the surface. The closer you feel to the top, though, the further away from reality you are because after stepping out of that dark tunnel, you are standing at the foot of yet another staircase! Some just stood there, mouth agape, staring in disbelief at the towering approach. More steps!?!? Yes, 99 of those bad boys :D And just when you think you can't take another footstep, they make you climb a spiral staircase!!

Crater Surroundings

At this point I felt somewhat tortured, but the end was getting near. I could feel it. Okay, well, not as close as I hoped....More stairs?!?! So, let me get this straight, we've scaled a windy path of switchbacks, a 74 step set of stairs, burrowed through a tunnel, climbed another staircase with 99 grueling steps, spiral staircase with 52 stairs and last but not least a 3rd set of stairs with 54 more steps! Holy mama!! Lemme catch my breath......

Mini Waikiki

I suppose that this trail wouldn't be so popular if the views weren't worth every drop of sweat shed along the way. The vista was most definitely a stunning sight with the Pacific ocean and Wakiki coastline in full view. As a matter of fact, this is an ideal spot to see a panoramic view of the Leeward side of the island.

Me on top of Diamond Head

One good thing about hikes that make you work so hard going up, you know it's all downhill from the top! Despite how horrible I may make this hike sound, I saw so many different types of people trudging to the summit. I even passed a lady who was wearing high heels! No lie. And she did make it to the top...eventually :D

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A Place of Peace & Serenity: Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple

Located in the Valley of the Temples, at the base of the 2,000 foot Ko'olau mountain range, is the replica of a 950-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. The Byodo-In Temple was constructed, without the use of a single nail, in the 1960's to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii to work in the sugar plantations.

Buddah Statue

Byodo-In is the quintessence of tranquility and I was fortunate enough to experience this place solely. The only other people around were the groundskeepers, but they don't count.

Stone Path

Before entering the temple it is customary to ring the Bon-Sho (sacred bell) by striking it with the shu-moku (a wooden log). The five foot high, three ton brass bell creates a deep resonant gong, sending out a wave of calm said to cleanse the mind of evil and temptation. One can't help but be overcome with an extreme sense of peacefulness while roaming the grounds.

Remove Shoes

The most intense feelings I exhibited were upon entering the temple and getting my first glimpse of Amida, a golden Buddah, carved out of wood that towered more than 18 feet tall.

Golden Buddah (Amida)

As I stood there gawking at this immense figure, I began to weep. I had no clue as to why either. All I know is that I was filled with an overwhelming array of complex emotions that I couldn't begin to decipher. I just went with it, especially since I was alone and could do so without prying eyes.

Bell Detail

I walked along every inch of these grounds as slowly as I possibly could so I wouldn't miss a single detail. Took a peek in the gift shop and picked up a few mementos (post cards and incense). I also bought a bag of fish food so that I could sit at the edge of the expansive koi pond and feed the eager fishies. Little did I know that every species of wildlife here at Byodo-In would be attracted to the scanty handout.

I was surrounded on all sides by feisty fish, curious swans, a tenacious turtle and a flock of swift birdies. I thought that must be what it felt like to be Snow White! It was too much fun dispensing those goodies, I had to go back and get a second bag. And I was probably stalling, too, because I hated to leave this lovely place. Can you blame me?! Alas, I had other sights to see.

Byodo-In with Bridge

By the time I came full-circle (2 hours later) there were groups of people entering by the dozen! I ate my lunch of leftover sushi (how fitting) in the parking lot before making my way to Highway 83 for a leisurely stop-and-go drive up to the North Shore of Oahu. I had a few hours to kill prior to the evening event we planned to attend for my birthday. If you missed it, we went to Germaine's Luau, which you can read about here.


As I left with thankfulness on my mind, I thought that having this magnificent place all to myself was my birthday gift from the universe. What a great birthday I had (Sept 29)! Lucky, I am :D

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NC State Fair in Raleigh, NC

Fair Entrance Archway

I nearly forgot what it felt like to walk through the gates of a fair. It's been so long since I've been to one, it's no wonder. The lights.....the smells....the sounds. They all compound to cultivate an evening filled with good times and lasting memories! It's almost too much to take in since everything hits you all at once, kicking your sensory overload into hyperdrive. I swear that I was on the brink of explosion as I attempted to take it all in.

Fireworks & Flags

Aside from making our minds up about what we wanted to do first, there was also the dilemma of trying to gain your bearings in a land where every corner looks exactly the same as the last one you passed. We were completely overwhelmed by the amount of options they had available. Between the food, rides & other fun stuff, everywhere you turn is a sea of potential gluttony just waiting for you to give in. Giving in to your whims in this place is unavoidable!

Food Vendors Galore

The NC State Fair in Raleigh, NC is supposedly the biggest and best fair in the state. While I haven't been to many, I can definitely say that this fair takes the "deep-fried cake". It was positively massive! We walked all over the place, and got a pretty good workout, before finally making a decision on what we would do to jump start our evening .

Ferris Wheel

Since the best place to survey the entire grounds would be from the air, what better place to get a grand view than from a ride on the Ferris Wheel! I was hoping that we would get stuck at the top for a moment or two so I could take a photo, but we didn't. And to think, we almost waited until daylight hours on Sunday for our fair fun. I'm glad we didn't because I am a huge fan of all the lights, it's much more dazzling in the evening.

Starship Lights

After our ferris wheel foray, we elected to get some grub. Good thing our insatiable appetites are only met with these indulgences occasionally. Otherwise, those deep-fried delectables would greatly lower a persons life expectancy!

The Fried Dough Shop

Our pattern seemed to be ride,

Swing Lights


Roasted Sweet Corn


Zipper Lights get the idea. At first, our reasoning was that we didn't want to eat too much all at once or else we would get sick when it was time to be thrashed around on a ride. Thankfully, our tummies were tame and didn't disagree with any of the tasty tidbits we were consuming. You know, to have as many vendors and food options as we did, we were quite subdued compared to our normal ravenous natures.

Deep-fried Pecan Pie

Our favorite fodder was most definitely the deep-fried pecan pie! Yep, you heard right....deep-fried pecan pie! They deep-fried just about everything in this place, mac & cheese, pickles, butter (?!?!), candy bars, it was pure ridiculousness!

Deep Fried Foods Booth

The only reason I can come up with as to why we didn't have anything more than a foot-long corn dog, slice of pepperoni pizza, roasted corn & cotton candy (for the road) was that we were off our game, or maybe just spending wisely, or perhaps we were just crippled by indecision, which might explain why I didn't get my sausage with onions & peppers and why Cody didn't get his giant turkey leg?! Who knows.

Make no mistake, though, no matter how wisely you try to spend your money in this place, it is expensive! But it was well worth the expense to experience "A Whole Lotta Happy" because I was sporting a perma-grin the entire night! I can't wait to go back next year :D

N.C. State Fair Website:

6 Sights to See on Highway 83 (Part 2)

Not all of the sights to see along highway 83 were quick stops. Some attractions required a bit more time to explore. One of the coolest things I got to do while in Hawaii was snorkeling! My friend Tawny took me to Shark's Cove to get my feet wet. Apparently, it is one of the best places to go snorkeling for free on Oahu. Even though I don't have anything else to compare it to, I can definitely confirm that it was an incredible place.

Overview of Shark's Cove Tidepool

After a brief demonstration from my good friend I was ready to take the plunge. As I meandered atop the surface of the clear water I remained in a constant state of awe as I caught glimpses of the amazing little underwater creatures in their natural habitat. I have always wondered what it would be like to poke around and peek at the aquatic life living beneath the surface. Snorkeling is definitely an adventure you shouldn't skip while in Hawaii. Oh, and don't be like me and forget to bring an underwater camera!

Shark's Cove

There are, however, some hazards involved that you should keep in mind when you get the urge to submerge, like the crazy sharp lava rocks between you and the water. They are a little tough to navigate barefoot, so be careful! You should also avoid touching the reef as you can severely threaten the survival of those very delicate environments that many species rely upon to subsist.

Don't forget to slather yourself up with sunscreen because you get a lot more sun than you realize. Trust me. You'll be sorry later, I was! Be careful with the type of sunscreen that you use because chemical ingredients in certain sunscreens can cause coral bleaching. Here is a link to more information on the most eco-friendly sunscreen to use while snorkeling: Coral-friendlier Sunscreen

Shave Ice from Matsumoto's

After our fun in the sun, we headed over to the town of Hale'iwa so that I could try one of these famous shaved ice sweet treats from Matsumoto's that I've heard so much about. You can tell that this is the place to go by taking one look at how long their line is. Stretching out to the parking lot seemed to be the norm, but it didn't take very long to reach the front of the line.

Line in front of Matsumoto's

Besides, I had trouble making up my mind about which flavors I wanted to try so I needed some extra time. I finally decided to go with a combination of guava and lilikoi (passion fruit) flavored ice on top of vanilla ice cream and red beans covered with condensed milk to add an extra layer of sweetness to the mix. Talk about yummy! I instantly understood why these delicious cones were so popular.

Me @ Matsumoto's

Matsumoto's opened as a grocery store in 1951. Now, it mainly sells shaved ice and souvenirs to tourists. They can serve upwards of 1,000 tasty treats on a hot summers day! Believe me, you want one. I want one right now, actually. The town of Hale'iwa isn't directly on Highway 83, but this is definitely a detour you want to take when you find yourself on the North Shore of Oahu.

Waimea Bay

This last sight was one that I briefly stopped at during my drive along Highway 83. While looking at this relatively calm scene, it is hard to believe that in the winter months ocean swells pound Waimea Bay with 30 foot waves. During that time surfers from all over the world find themselves at this beach clamoring to catch a wave. You wouldn't think that the summer would be the slow season, but it is!

I had so much fun taking the scenic route along Highway 83. In a few short hours I covered a lot of ground. The picturesque shoreline drive took me from Kualoa on the Windward side of the island to Hale'iwa on the Northshore. The sheer beauty of the scenery along this stretch of road is unsurpassed by anything that I've ever seen. I think that it would be nearly impossible to travel that way without deviating from your course. Just let the wind take you where it will, you won't be disappointed!

If you missed Part 1 of the 6 Sights to See on Highway 83, click here.

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6 Sights to See on Highway 83 (Part 1)

Mountain Backdrop

One of the prettiest shoreline drives in Oahu is, without a doubt, Highway 83. This picturesque driving tour with its miles of crystal blue pacific ocean was truly captivating. Imagine how hard it was for me to keep my eyes forward, especially during those times when the road was hugging the ocean so closely! My only plan was to cruise this stretch of highway at a slower pace, and to stop whenever something caught my eye since no agenda was planned beforehand.

Hawaii Whip

I lucked out when searching for a rental car deal online, and scored this sporty whip for my week in paradise!

Once you start driving from the Windward Mall, in Kane'ohe, you are committed to this joyride until you have reached Hale'iwa, which is only 40 miles, but it takes an hour to complete. Being bound to that two-lane road with nearly no stop lights is actually the drive of my dreams! No commitment issues here :D

Kualoa Beach

1.) The first stop on my coastal tour along the windward side of Oahu was Kualoa Beach Park, which sits at the edge of Kane'ohe Bay. Had I not already eaten lunch this oceanfront park would have been the perfect place for a picnic. A seemingly endless lawn is matched by a sandy strip of beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. The 208 ft high off-shore island seen from the waters edge is known as Mokoli'i Island or Chinaman's Hat.

Chinaman's Hat

Even if you can't muster the courage or stamina to swim the 614 yards it takes in order to reach the island, viewing it from afar is as good as it gets, although I have heard that it's easier to get to during low tide.

Roadside Rock Cairns

2.) This roadside attraction wasn't anything you would read about in a guidebook. Chances are they might not still be standing, but if they are, you'd want to see them! As I made my way from town to town, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed these statue-like figures teetering on the edge of the pavement. Quickly, I found a place to turn around so I could investigate further. I was able to park at the Crouching Lion Inn (around mile marker 27), which was right across the street.

Balanced Boulders

What I found as I crossed over to the other side were a grouping of rock cairns balancing in between the ocean's crashing waves and speeding motorists flying down the highway. I was amazed that they remained unscathed. But that's precisely why rock cairns are so special to begin with.

My Offering

You can't help but be mesmerized by the gravity-defying feats those stones can achieve. It was somewhat funny that I chanced upon this display when I did because I made one at the last stop only a few miles up the road! But before heading along my merry way, I collected a pile of rocks and stacked some stones of my own to leave as an offering for my appreciation. As you can see in the above photo, I have yet to reach a point in my rock cairn making where balance has taken precedence, with me, it's more about aesthetics. Maybe balance will come later :D

La'ie Point

3.) La'ie Point: From this sandstone point you get a grand view of the natural arch that was carved by a tsunami in 1946. Yep, the tsunami punched a hole in the rock!

Windward Oahu

To the right of the off-shore island you get a good glimpse of the windward side of Oahu. While this site offers great views, it only takes a short time to visit. Okay, maybe it was a little boring, but it was still cool!

I think that it would be an absolute shame for anyone heading to the island of Oahu to forgo seeing this side of the island because they're planning on staying around the heavily populated cities. The areas from Kane'ohe (Windward) to Hale'iwa (North Shore) are some of the most beautiful sights I found while driving around Oahu, but they can't be easily accessed like most of the sights found around Honolulu or Waikiki. Even if you rented a car for one day, it would be well worth your while to experience the pleasure of driving along one of the best highways while visiting Oahu!

In my next post I will share the other 3 Sights to see along Highway 83!
Update: Now posted! Click below.

4.) Snorkeling (for free) in Sharks Cove
5.) Shave Ice @ Matsumoto's
6.) Waimea Bay

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