8489948230_60a003747c_k
Travel, USVI

#TBT: St. John | Maho Bay

Maho Bay is one of the prettiest beaches on St. John, and the most accessible – most beaches require a short walk or a long hike, but Maho is situated right along the North Shore Road.

Maho Bay

It’s a great place for kids, with a long, sandy beach, shallow water, shade from the coconut trees, and a quick retreat to the car if needed.

Maho

Heaven is what it is is what it is.

Flying fish

(I tried to do one of these jump shots too. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most flattering activity I could be doing with my body while wearing a bikini. Never again.)

Snorkel squishy

Snorkeling in the bay will almost guarantee you lots of stingray, conch, starfish, and turtle sightings (and some reasonably big barracudas), and every time we snorkeled here, it seemed we had enrolled in school. (Get it? Fnar fnar.)

We enrolled in school on St. John

Oh, hello there

Maho turtle

For me, Maho is more of a lounging beach than a snorkeling beach – I mostly go in the water to cool off between long stretches of reading and synthesizing vitamin D – but if you do want to explore, swim along the rocks around the edges of the bay. The marine life gets more and more interesting the farther out you go, and we had a very cool octopus experience in the rocks.

From this...

Metamorphosis…

Tiny octopus

…what even is this sorcery? Man alive, octopuses are amazing creatures. I feel incredibly lucky to have seen several of them on our trips to St. John.

...to this!

Speaking of lucky, Maho Bay is where we saw our very first shark in the wild. We actually saw it from the beach, because it kept cruising back and forth in the shallows, and then we were finally able to snap a photo of it. Looks pretty scary, no?

OH HAI

No! ‘Twas but a wee baby Lemon Shark, and it was adorable. The next year, however, our friends were snorkeling Maho and met what was presumably the same shark. It was definitely not a baby anymore, and it was decidedly unnerving.

Lemon Sharks are not at all in the habit of attacking humans (and as far as I understand – at least this is what I tell myself – the water around the St. John is too warm to attract the really terrifying sharks), but meeting a biggish shark underwater is enough to get the adrenaline going in most members of the Jaws generation.

Baby shark

If you go to St. John, you MUST go to Maho Bay. Pack a lunch and bring a book (not Jaws*).

Sunshine squishy

Come early, both to get a parking spot and to see the palm trees cast their beautiful shadows over the beach and the water. Stay all day (but if you’re there for sunset, you might get eaten alive by no-see-ums), relax, enjoy, snorkel, soak up the sun, look out over that Caribbean blue and revel in the fact that you’re on St. John, which means you’re one of the luckiest people on earth right now.

Maho Bay

*personally, I chose to read Jaws in the safety and comfort of an alpine fire lookout, which housed an impressive collection of shark literature.

AdobePhotoshopExpress_e2184267544f4360b8d815d539a3f44b
Challenge

Dørstokkmila

Today I had a chance to practice what I preach. Nora and I didn’t get out for a walk yesterday – thunder! hail! – and I woke up today feeling a mixture of emotions that can best be summed up by the word “meh”. The weather has been all over the place today, and the thought of going for a walk just seemed like too much of a hassle. Is there a word for this in English? In Norway, we call it dørstokkmila (the doorstep mile), that sometimes impossibly long way from lounging on the couch to actually getting out of the house.

There are few things more embarrassing than being caught taking a selfie. Guess what happened today!

There are few things more embarrassing than having a stranger catch you in the middle of taking selfies. Guess what happened today!

But the thing is, I know better. I do. I know how good it feels to get out, even for just a short walk on the trail. So we did, and it was wonderful. There was no endorphin rush, but there was sunshine, a cool breeze, the smell of grass drying after spring rain, bald eagles soaring above us, rabbits darting into the blackberry brambles, a smiling baby, a happy mama, and that was all I needed to turn this day around.

17343183976_9d3753e816_k
Challenge, Hiking, Hiking with baby, Issaquah Alps

Week One

Can all weekends be like this one? On Friday night we had Qdoba and finally got around to watching Wild, which was way better than I thought it would be (great soundtrack, too). On Saturday, Nora turned eight months – where does the time even go?? She celebrated by watching her dad play a soccer match, then we had more Qdoba and a visit from a friend. On Sunday, we went hiking in beautiful weather, had Veggie Grill for lunch, and ended the weekend with Game of Thrones. Lots of little moments that added up to perfection.

The makings of a moste excellent Friday night. Finally watching Wild! #qdoba 8 months! She celebrated by watching her pappa win his soccer match and playing with her Italian beau. She was awake for five hours straight without any fussing!! Sometimes I think I have post-colic stress disorder need to remember that we can actually go places now without epic meltdowns and hearing loss. Go baby go!
InstagramCapture_cc921ca6-5428-4904-9c16-78f17b8ce08e #veggiegrill - as if this weekend wasn't already perfect. And now: Game of Thrones!! *hums theme*

The whole week was good, actually. Between watching Fed Up and reading Natural Born Heroes, I’ve had no shortage of motivation. Natural Born Heroes is Chris McDougall’s new book, and just like Born to Run, I can. Not. Put. It. Down… Except that I have to, because there’s this tiny human who keeps demanding my attention. The nerve! Anyhoo, it’s getting me excited about running around and playing in the woods. And rethinking how I do my strength workouts. And strengthening my no-chocolate resolve.

Happily awake again

As far as my challenge goes, I’ll list the good and the bad. Let’s start with the bad so I can end on a high note.

The Bad:

Only one strength session | I was all excited after that first one on Monday, but then Wednesday didn’t happen because I prioritized coffee and general sloth, and Friday didn’t happen because of a nap malfunction.

No running | Oops. No excuses there.

I still really suck at meditating | And when I did try to meditate to sleep better, I just ended up feeling more awake. Meditation just isn’t for me, so I’m glad that part of the challenge is over. I’ll stick with mindful walking in order to feel centered instead.

The Good:

I’m totally rocking this no sugar thing | Every other time I’ve tried to deprive myself like this, I immediately go all rabid and devour all the things, but it just feels different this time. In fact it feels so good that I’ve decided to extend the no added sugar rule until May 17, which is Norway day (and one simply can’t not have Norwegian chocolate on Norway day). I’ve learned that (a) my chocolate cravings are directly related to how tired I am and (b) I’m really addicted to having something sweet with my morning coffee, but a date paired with a couple of walnuts satisfies that craving.

Excellent walks with Nora | Even without any running, I managed to cover 20 miles this week just by walking and hiking with Nora. The best workout was on Thursday, when I packed a picnic lunch and carried Nora on my front, pack on my back, 6.5 miles round trip on hilly local trails so we could hang out in a park. We’ll be doing that again for sure.

Cougar Mountain loop

We knew we definitely wanted to go hiking on Sunday, but we were feeling unmotivated to travel far and deal with potentially not even being able to find parking. The easily accessible trails (with good views) have been so crowded lately that it’s becoming a problem. We decided to just head on over to Cougar Mountain and do a five-mile loop there. We didn’t get any in-your-face mountain views, but we hiked in virtual solitude with green, green, green all around us. I’ll take it.

Cougar Mountain loop

yawzi
Travel, USVI

#TBT: St. John | Yawzi Point

On our last full day on St. John, we visited Yawzi Point for the first time. Holy smokes, y’all, what an amazing day of snorkeling.

The drive to Little Lameshur was pretty awful (it was nothing compared to the road to White Pocket, though…but more on that in a future #TBT post). You really should rent a Jeep if you visit St. John.

Little Lameshur

The preferred way to reach Yawzi Point is to hike the short trail out from Little Lameshur, but at this point in our vacation, I had such bad morning sickness that walking anywhere was out of the question. The only way I could get out there was to swim from the beach – feeding the fish, as it were, along the way. Luckily for me, the longer swim paid off – we saw an octopus, squid, and several Lionfish.

Little Lameshur

When we saw a Lionfish the year before, we called it into the Lionfish Hotline so someone could come take care of it, but these guys were already hanging out next to yellow markers. Read more about this invasive species here (you had me at “venomous anal spines”).

Octopus

Octopuses changing color before your very eyes = the coolest.

Changing color

Yawzi Point was like an underwater paradise, full of healthy coral and huge fish. There’s a whole system of tunnels and caves that beg for exploration. I wish we had more photos, but after having focusing issues the entire trip, our underwater camera finally conked out that day. At least it happened on the last day.

One of many turtle friends

I didn’t freedive because a) I was pregnant, and depriving oneself of oxygen while gestating a tiny human is not a good move and b) because I truly suck at freediving. While JK and our friend Carlos explored the underwater caves, I snorkeled around the outer edges of the reef, finding much bigger fish than we had seen on our previous snorkels. This photo does a lousy job of conveying just how big this barracuda was, so you’re just going to have to trust me. I also saw two gigantic fish that I’m convinced were tuna, but I’m not sure they even have those in the Caribbean. Maybe they’re attracted to regurgitated starfruit.

Whoa

After seeing all these big sea creatures, you would think I would be scared shitless when Carlos surfaced and yelled “Shark!!”, but instead, I got all excited and enthusiastically splashed my way over to him. The boys had found a nurse shark hanging out under one of the arches! Very cool. That officially made this our favorite day of snorkeling yet.

Our first nurse shark!

I’m a little bummed that it took us until the last day of our vacation to discover Yawzi Point. It is becoming increasingly clear that another return trip to St. John is in order. (Okay, fine, there was never any question about that.)

Little Lameshur

AdobePhotoshopExpress_69f384bf5ee1453491abeb20a44d88c7
Challenge

A Chocolate Hiatus

The Adventure Baby Boost Challenge started yesterday! The main focus for this week is, well, focus. Breathing, meditation. I hate that stuff, which probably means I need to do it. I decided to give it a try before bedtime to see if it would help calm that damn monkey mind that’s keeping me awake at night, but I wasn’t hugely successful. My mind was everywhere. Maybe it takes practice.

I’ve added an extra challenge into this whole thing, too. JK and I watched Fed Up on Friday. It’s available on Netflix now, and everyone should watch it, seriously. It made us both feel angry, sad, frustrated (now I know how they landed on that title), and, ultimately, motivated. It’s extra frustrating to me that I do know all this stuff already, but I still end up swimming in chocolate every day. I was so good at controlling my gestational diabetes – I was able to control my cravings during pregnancy, for Jebus’ sake, I should definitely be able to now! To see if we can, JK and I both decided to take the Fed Up Challenge, which means no sugar or processed food for ten days. No chocolate! Eeep!

I woke up yesterday feeling like I was coming down with something, which I am hoping (and wishing, and thinking, and praying) were actually, pathetically, withdrawal symptoms. That oughta tell you how much chocolate my body is used to getting. Hnngh. Normally I would just curl up into a ball and feel sorry for myself, but I wouldn’t be able to live down that lame of a beginning to the challenge, so instead I went down to the basement to work out the second I put Nora down for morning nap. I repeated sets of tricep dips, slide lunges, lateral raises, jump squats, and kettlebell deadlifts for 20 minutes. It’s short enough that it should be doable every day (I’m shooting for Mon/Wed/Fri), but long enough to get a good workout.

Oggl_635657457486257089 Oggl_635657456297047390

I also went for a beautiful walk on the Powerline Trail with Nora. It was 77°F outside, so we both wore shorts and Nora had unsocked piggies. She even fell asleep on me for the first time in too long, which felt like heaven. It was an excellent time to practice that calm breathing. Can I call it walking meditation?