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California’s Super Bloom

April 10, 2017

If you live in California (or even if you don’t), you’ve undoubtedly heard about our “super bloom” of flowers right now. Viral facebook posts have caused people to turn out in droves to see fields of flowers as far as the eye can see in various parts of southern and central California.

California, I love you!

Well, I’m always up for a reason to break out the camera (it’s been getting a little dusty lately, although it did get a quick jaunt across the pond a few weeks ago) so a girlfriend and I headed up there this past weekend to see if we could find all these supposedly ubiquitous flowers.

I just love the colors here so much!

Because of this post I saw on facebook, we decided to head 3.5 hours north to the Carrizo Plain National Monument:

Unfortunately our late arrival meant we didn’t have the time to climb up to this point. =( But we did still enjoy what we did see.

God is the best artist!

The drive north was fairly uneventful, although we managed to make it interesting with several long stops that caused us to not arrive at our hiking destination until 4 pm! I had hoped to be up there by 1 pm at the latest. If you go, get there early! 

Right now there are lots of visitors and you will have to drive on a narrow, dusty, and rut-riddled single-lane “road” that is serving as a two-lane road! It is a bit of a crazy ride, and thanks to all the traffic it ends up being quite the windy, dusty stop when you do get out of your car to get pictures. Perhaps by arriving early you can avoid some of the traffic congestion and dust.

The drive up was so incredibly beautiful!

But in spite of all the traffic and wind and dust (and we even got some rain!), we still managed to get some great pictures at all of our stops along the way. And I promise, I’m doing my best to post only a *few* pictures.

When the sun shone on these hills, all those yellow flowers lit up and highlighted the ridges of the hills. It was kinda amazing.

I love windmills! And hills of yellow flowers. =)

Love. This.

Before you arrive at the dirt road that leads you to the hike to find the pictures you see in the facebook post, you will pass a lot of green flower-covered hills that are worth stopping at to get some pictures. (Note: the place to hike is not well-identified. You might only notice it by the cars parked along the road. When in doubt, follow the crowd.)

All the yellow lit up by the sun

We stopped at several beautiful places and could have spent hours up there if we weren’t in desperate search of a bathroom by that point. Tip: There are only TWO toilets at the Carrizo Plain National Monument Visitor Center off of Soda Lake Road. When we arrived there, the line was so long that it took us 30 minutes to get to use the restroom (it was at this point that it rained on us, at two different times). What an adventure it ended up being. But we had a great time and I LOVED getting to take some pretty pictures again.

Monique matches the flowers wherever she goes. ūüėČ

Sometimes there were pretty views with no place to pull off, so we made do with shots out the window.

One of my faves

So much beauty.


It’s a great time to be out in nature in California right now. Get out there and enjoy it!

So. Many. Flowers.


Have you ever crossed something off your bucket list without even knowing it? That night I saw an icebow…

February 9, 2017

Ever since I heard about icebows, it’s been on my bucket list to see one. And then last night I saw one and didn’t even know that’s what it was!img_9666

Last night I forgot something I needed at the front house and as I was walking up to get it, I glanced up at the sky (I love the night sky!) and was shocked to see a huge white ring around the moon! I had no idea what it was but excitedly ran to tell my mom and brother and then ran for my camera. I wasn’t sure how long it would stay like that, but thankfully it lasted long enough for me to play around a bit with my settings and focus to get some okay pictures. Would have been better if I could have set infinity focus and or used a tripod. But still, it totally made my night and I’m so thankful God let me see it!

img_9661At first googling, it appeared to be a “moonbow” so I went with that. But then after some more googling, I realized it was actually an icebow! Eek! I had thought they only showed up in the day and in snowy/icy places, but I guess not. I also learned that if you use a long exposure you can capture the colors that our eyes can’t see. Apparently icebows aren’t really just the white color that we can see. Next time!img_9671

Hello, 2017!

January 27, 2017

You guys, where did 2016 go? And where have I been lately? I know, I know, sorry I’ve been MIA for a while now. ¬†It’s not that I haven’t been writing it’s just that I’ve been trying to crank out 50 articles for ExpatPost¬†and so have been devoting all of my writing time to that. Only 19 articles left to write! Then hopefully I can write a bit more here from time to time.

2016 was challenging

I can’t believe another year has come and gone already. 2016 in many ways was one of the more difficult years I’ve had in a while, and in other ways was one of the most incredible years. Living in Fiji wasn’t easy for many,¬†many¬†reasons. But I learned a lot about many different things, and I experienced things that certainly make for good stories and that taught me I¬†can¬†go through certain things and survive. It also made me extremely thankful for all the other places I’ve lived and all the other jobs I’ve had.

2016 was also incredible

2016 saw me visiting my 50th country, what?!!!! (Also my 51st). ¬†I certainly never in a million years would have guessed that life would lead me this direction, but I am¬†so, so thankful¬†for all these adventures God has allowed me to go on. What an amazing life and journey He’s given me! I also got to experience three of THE coolest things I’ve ever gotten to see. In that aspect, I don’t think any year will ever surpass the incredibleness of this past year.

  • Climbed an active volcano

I got to climb Mt. Yassur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu and watch the volcano repeatedly erupt while the sun set behind us. Hands down if you are able to do this you MUST. One of the most amazing things you will ever witness in your life. Totally surreal experience.

  • Saw the northern lights

I also got to experience the northern lights in Alaska. Another AMAZING experience that MUST be on your list of things to do. I cannot put into words how awe-inspiring they are. ¬†Seriously, just go see them. If that was the only amazing thing I experienced this year it would have been enough. I can’t rave enough about that experience. Worth every penny you will ever spend on the trip, AND my trip was basically free!!!

  • Kayaked the Bio Bay in Puerto Rico

The third incredible thing was getting to experience bioluminescence in Vieques, Puerto Rico. I didn’t know¬†that¬†much about bioluminescence/dinoflagellates before I went to PR this last time, but I do now! And they are¬†incredible.¬†Think glow-in-the-dark water that only lights up when you touch it. It looks like you are putting your paddle or hand into a glow stick. ¬†And if you splash the water into the kayak, little tiny dots of glowing bright blue will cascade all around you and then disappear. It’s amazing. And should definitely be on your bucket list.

You guys, God is an AMAZING artist. All those surreal experiences I got to see last year were all natural phenomena that He created! The more I travel, the more I am in absolute awe of what a majestic designer He is. I am often simply overwhelmed by it all. He is such a good God to give us so much beauty to enjoy.

I don’t know what 2017 holds for me. (I say that pretty often these days, don’t I?) But I know that something amazing will happen and I’m just waiting for it. While I hang out and wait for where to go next I am throwing myself into trying to learn Russian for real. In the past I stopped trying when I ran up against the brick wall that is called confusing Russian grammar. But this time I am determined to push through it and really master this unique and challenging and beautiful language. ¬†Never in a million years did I think I would ever try to learn a foreign language. And certainly not one as difficult as Russian. But it’s exciting and the more I learn and see progress, the more excited I become. Someday I¬†will¬†return to a Russian-speaking country. At least that is my dream.

I hope that each of you has a fabulous 2017. Don’t let fear hold you back from chasing big, bold dreams. There is so much out there in this big world we live in. Go do it!

Fireworks and Trip Planning

October 30, 2016

I’ve been sitting at my computer ALL day today researching 3 different upcoming trips. The one that has been taking up the most time is a road trip I’m planning up PCH from LA to San Francisco. And hopefully over to Point Reyes. I haven’t been to Point Reyes yet but oh my goodness, it looks amazing. I hadn’t even heard of Alamere Falls until today. Now I’m trying to figure out how we can squeeze everything in. There is WAY too much to see in California on just a 5 day trip. My Dutch friend is flying in and I want to show her EVERYTHING, but I’m realizing that’s just not possible and I’m not sure what to cut out. Everything is so fabulous. But the planning of it is making my brain hurt.

In between all of that research, I’ve been trying to look up shore excursions for an upcoming Caribbean cruise AND trying to look for houses in Chile. Just in case I decide to go there next year.

Thank goodness today is a day off! AND my roommate is gone, so the internet is working ok. When we both try to use it it basically just stops working. =( Yesterday was Diwali and today is a holiday for everyone here in Fiji. Which makes me happy since all the fireworks last night kept us awake till after 1 am. I have never in my life¬†seen so many fireworks. They were going off in every direction around our house! For HOURS. And it was raining the entire time. Combined with all the “Diwali” lights that everyone puts up on their houses (they look just like Christmas lights) it felt so odd. The weather didn’t feel like the 4th of July, but the fireworks did. And the lights looked like Christmas. But it’s October. Anyway, after a few hours of trying to get pictures from the house, I went outside in the rain and got some video of the fireworks that our neighbors were shooting off. These pictures below are just from our front door. The phone doesn’t take great pictures but I was too lazy to go get my camera, although I wish I would have – it would have been a great time to experiment with fireworks photography.

Counting the days now until I am home. 3 weeks from today. So bittersweet!

Oh Hey, an Update!

September 23, 2016

Guys, I’m still alive! I know I haven’t written in forever,¬†and I’ve had more than a few people mention it, so I’m taking the time to sit here and type up a few words for you all. (Actually I’m really just procrastinating from what I should be doing and that is writing a post for ExpatPost – which is another reason I haven’t posted here lately, I’ve been writing some for them.)

My absence from this blog has been due to sketchy internet, a busy schedule, and just pure apathy. Ha. It’s¬†certainly¬†not for lack of material to write as life here is as crazy as ever. Sometimes I think I should have started a log of all the things I have googled here. Just yesterday I googled “can you hear termites eating wood?” Because I know termites live in my room (every now and then a pile of tiny round balls of wood (??) will appear on the floor, and sometimes I hear an odd scratching sound coming from the floor. But apparently you can’t hear termites eating. So I’m¬†really¬†not sure what else lives in my room with me. I’m not too worried about the termites because I won’t be here long enough to witness the entire house collapse. But if I planned to live here long term, I’d be worried. They are eating a lot of the floorboards of my second story room, ha.

Last week I got back from spending a fabulous week in the tiny Kingdom of Tonga, my 48th country, what?


Look at that huge sun!

For the girl who as a kid said she was never going to get married (so far that’s true) and would just live at home forever, I’ve sure covered a lot of ground these past 11 years. Something that in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would get to do.¬†Life is such a crazy adventure! Who knows what the future holds, I have no¬†clue¬†where I will be after January of next year, but I am so thankful that I know WHO holds the future, and I already know He has something fabulous in store!


Sunset on the tiny island of Pangaimotu, Kingdom of Tonga

I have hundreds of cool pictures from my week in Tonga, and I wish I could post them all here. What a beautiful little country!

Anyway, I’m just still plugging along over here in Fiji and counting the days until I get to hug all my family members again, especially those nephews and niece, and get to see all my Lighthouse people again. I miss my church like crazy! About 8 more weeks until I get to fly home. Just in time for Thanksgiving, that’s how lucky I am. =) Can. Not. Wait!


Adventures in Shopping

May 7, 2016

The other day¬†my flatmate¬†and I set out after school to buy a small table and chairs for our house.¬†When I moved in there wasn’t much furniture in the house (and there still isn’t.) There were three chairs, of sorts, and that was it!! No table and chairs for eating, no couches, nothing. We’re living pretty “Fijian” here I guess? Anyway, we finally went to buy something so at least now we have a place to eat. I had seen a cheap (that term is so relative, it was the equivalent of $150 USD and back home I wouldn’t even pay 50 bucks for this thing!

But things are EXPENSIVE here, and this we could afford) table and chairs at a store in town, so we went to buy it. While there I also bought a small bookshelf (again it cost more than I’d normally pay) so I could at least have some sort of furniture in my room. The purchasing of these items, alone, was an adventure, but not nearly as much of one as the delivery of those items.

When we bought these items it took 3 people to ring up the items, and one to keep running up and down the stairs to get the prices so the clerk could ring them up. Then it took all of them to interpret the directions to our house (and they still got it wrong when they actually came to deliver.)

Day of delivery: They told me they would call ahead of time to make sure we were home (since we’d be at school all day) but as I was walking home from school I got a call saying “deliveryman is already there.” We actually had about FOUR phone calls between us in the time it took me to finish walking home. He’d say something, I wouldn’t understand, he’d hang up, I’d call back. The whole phone call process was ridiculously funny. When I finally got home, I saw the delivery truck turning onto our street (from the street where he’d driven while trying to find our house – he’d driven past and made a wrong turn.) Three men jumped out and started unloading our table and chairs. The man carrying the table kept banging the table legs into the fence and doorjamb. I actually stopped him and helped him turn the table sideways and carry it through the door since he kept trying to get it to fit and kept hitting the legs. I couldn’t believe the careless way they treated the table! My flatmate later told me they are careless like that with everything. That’s why things always get broken in the moving process here. =(

After they brought the table and chairs in, they went out to get my bookshelf. When they brought it in, I saw that the top part was pulling away from the back part of the shelf. Granted this is not a nice piece of furniture, but I didn’t want to start out with it broken already. So I asked them about it, since it hadn’t been broken when I saw it in the store. (After seeing how they treat things here, it’s no wonder it broke). They tried to tell me that it could be easily fixed by tightening a screw in the shelf. It was so comical I almost laughed. The screw was¬†nowhere near¬†the problem area! I might not be mechanically inclined but I DO¬†have common sense. They insisted that would fix it and asked me for a screwdriver. I went and got one for them, and watched as they were not able to fix it, obviously. Then they tried to tell me it was¬†a different¬†part that needed to be tightened. Well, they tried that and it didn’t work either. I was kinda stunned that¬†three men¬†were honestly trying to “fix” something in such a wrong way. Maybe they thought the (not so) dumb white lady would fall for it? Uh, nope, sorry. When they (obviously) couldn’t fix it, and I insisted I either wanted a new one or my money back, they told me they would bring a new one on Saturday (this was on a Wed). I thought that was intriguing, since I hadn’t seen any other bookshelves that size in the store. And here, what you see on the floor is what you get. There is no backroom full of stock. And often stores look a bit like yard sales with what is out on the salesfloor. It’s odd, honestly. But I figured ok whatever and waited until Saturday (today).

Well, why I thought this day would turn out differently, I¬†don’t know,¬†but thank goodness I didn’t have my heart set on getting that bookshelf because…I didn’t get it. But they did try to deliver it again. THE SAME ONE. Only this time it looked WORSE. You guys, I¬†don’t understand people here.¬†WHY on earth would you bring me the same bookshelf that I sent back? And bring it back looking even worse?¬†That boggles my mind.¬†I guess I give people too much credit here, but honestly…..

When the guy started to pull it out of the truck, I noticed the crack right away and pointed it out. It was a new delivery guy, I think, but I definitely recognized the driver, and when he got out, he was kind of apologetic like “we don’t have any more so you can have your money back.” I was wondering why on earth they didn’t just say that on the phone when I called this morning, instead of just saying “We’ll deliver after 4.” So I said thank you and they put it back in the truck and left. And I walked away laughing in disbelief.

Some days I just don’t understand this place. Like, every day.


Flora and fauna of our backyard

April 25, 2016

This post is nothing exciting, but I was just out in the yard snapping a few pictures (after I discovered some odd growths on one of our trees while taking laundry off of the line) and decided to post them for you to see.


I’m so curious as to these growths on these leaves.




The cat that lives in our yard.