Instagramming Oregon and California Trip

I don’t blog that heavily anymore. Most of our photos are now posted in Instagram so I guess you can now call me an IG blogger. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, having said that, I know that there are people who still don’t have Instagram (paging Mom). So with that, I try to use hashtag on each vacation we do so that I can collate them, turn into a blog post and share the link… Well, we recently traveled to Oregon to watch the total solar eclipse and then did a side trip to Yosemite, Sequoia and then a day trip to San Francisco. Here are some of the photos… ๐Ÿ™‚ It may take a while for this post to unfold as I typically create a photobook first (as I did with previous vacations). So please bear with me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Much love, Joyce

Instagramming Siargao

Beautiful photos of Siargao

Instagramming Kauai

I mentioned in a Facebook post that I will unplug for the rest of October and do a social media cleanse on both FB and Twitter. I didn’t mention as to why because I wasn’t feeling too verbose at that time. The timing was just right as my feeds, while I had participated in discussions at times, were very toxic, filled with enmity, hate and judgments and not healthy anymore. Well, nothing is absolutely wrong from our end. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are, as a matter of fact in Kauai, mostly unplugged to the world but have been updating those who are following me just through Instagram. I now feel refreshed and calm as we are immersing ourselves in the tremendous beauty of this island and see it from a different perspective the second time around. I also have the best company in the world while enjoying this. Check out some of the photos I have shared (to those who aren’t in IG). ๐Ÿ™‚ I may go back to social media I mentioned above by mid-November or from time to time as I do want to remain updated with what’s happening with my parents, sisters, niece and some very close friends. Aloha […]

5 Things I Learned from Hiking by Myself

Prior to our little boy being born, my husband had a 2-day work conference in Tucson, Arizona. I haven’t been to that state so I went with him and his business partner with the knowledge that I will be by myself for most of the time while they were at the said conference. I figured I could shop, drive around and hike… The last one terrified me. While I have hiked countless times by myself in MN, I still don’t like to do it by myself in a very unfamiliar location. However, I didn’t want to just stay in the hotel room or by the pool so I did manage to get the courage to hike the Northwest side of Saguaro National Park area. ๐Ÿ˜€ And yes, I did learn something and here are some of them: 1. It’s not that scary It’s not just once that I have mentioned that I don’t like getting lost. I did have to look at the map, study it and made sure I get familiar with where I was going. I also dealt with the fear of snakes and the thought of being snatched up by a stranger by being aware of my […]

Eight, Eight, We Celebrate

The conversation I had with my sister is still very clear in my head despite the fact that it occurred 10 years ago. I remember telling her something about the guy I was dating and how I thought that we may not be compatible at all. My exact words to her at that time was, “He’s so down to earth, almost a “granola” while I was too superficial and materialistic to a fault.” She told me not to make harsh judgment, give it a chance and pray for guidance, and so I did… Thank God! We are now together for 10 years but just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary!   I am sharing this because one of the things that I struggled with when I first started dating him were those differences (I often complained about) as we used to have very different perspectives in life. I tend to dwell on the negatives while he always sees the positives. He likes to fix things while I used to just pay someone to do the same. He loves the small, precious moments while I get more excited with the grandeur of things. He’s very simple, I was not. He was thrifty […]

ExploreMN: Savanna Portage State Park

We were supposed to go Southwest and check Pipestone National Monument last weekend but the weather forecast made us change our plans. We don’t really want to camp (yet) with rain above our heads and soggy ground beneath our feet, we did that a lot in the past and it’s something that both my husband and I didn’t really like. As an alternative, hubbyย found Savanna Portage State Park which has two interesting information that sealed our decision — first, it straddles the Continental Divide and the portage (hence the name), which links the Mississippi River and Lake Superior and was heavily used by native Americans and fur traders during 1750-1840. Reason for the trip: To explore Minnesota more, unplug and unwind, hike, paddle, camp again, teach the little one how to enjoy wilderness and of course, spend true quality time with the family. It’s also, kind of, our way of celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary (although we have two more big trips later this year). Before the Trip: We made our reservation for the campsite through the DNR website. We cooked and packed all our food. We made sure that appropriate clothes, tools, necessities are picked and packed as well […]

2016 Best Island in the World – Maui

Trip Advisor recently published the list of 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards Top 10 islands to visit around the world. And you know what topped that list? It’s Maui, Hawaii. While I will forever remain loyal to the Philippines and its beautiful islands, Maui has a special place in my heart. ย  Here are the reasons why I love Maui and why it is almost always considered as one of the best: ย  1. The banyan trees – The banyan is actually native to India, and the Lahaina Banyan was presented to Maui Sherriff William Owen Smith by missionaries from India. He planted it to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Protestant mission to Lahaina. The Lahaina Banyan is now the oldest banyan in Hawaii, and one of the oldest in the United States. “Their canopies are vast, and seem to drip roots to the ground below. Kids love to swing from those roots, and to climb among nooks and crannies of intricately intertwined trunks.” ย  ย  2. The pineapples – We toured the Maui Gold Farm on our last visit as our 50th wedding anniversary gift to my in-laws (together with the helicoper tour). It’s very interesting to hear […]


I was almost a beginner back in 2007 and have been wanting to create great images. I didn’t know what to do until I found a Master Landscape Photographer and his amazing work. I was shy asking him questions because I knew nothing about gears plus there is that apprehension as to whether he will respond or not. I have nothing to lose so I emailed and cited examples of his great work and asked him how he managed to accomplish those. He not only explained to me in details, he also gave me a list of things to buy (or borrow) with suggestions on alternatives if I want to save money. Our trip to Kauai was the first time I applied the techniques he taught me. I wish I kept the emails but too bad, I couldn’t find them anymore. By putting myself out there, I learned about stops, exposures (and where to expose), filters, tripods, how high or low should I be on the ground, what lens to use and so much more… While I may not use the techniques that I have learned that much anymore as we now travel with a little child who deserves my […]

Travel Diary: Cancรบn Part 3

"Always do what you are afraid to do.โ€ - Ralph Waldo Emerson There are two things I am asked quite often. First, how are we able to afford all the trips we were taking; and second, why are we bringing our little one with to all of them when he's still too young to remember (some followed it with, "isn't it a waste of money?")? The first one is very easy to answer -- unbeknownst to most, we don't typically buy luxury or designer possessions (except for my Choos :p), we don't go to the mall, we rarely eat out and if we do, we limit it to about $20-40 per meal for all 3 of us, we drive used non-luxury cars and we don't usually put on things or dangle something in our arms to make us appear as if we are rich. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ We invest our money in real estate properties or stocks, etc. We prioritize experiences and travels and once we pick a destination, we do shop around for deals as well. You get the drift. ๐Ÿ™‚ The second one requires a much more complicated answer. We have been taking our little boy to all trips […]

Travel Diary: Cancรบn Part 2

Our review of the rental property we had at Cancun We were celebrating W's birthday last year when it came up that we should take a vacation together since we have been talking about it for quite awhile now. Cancun was brought up due to its proximity to Minnesota and the number of direct flights from MSP -- they are all from Delta Airlines. ๐Ÿ™‚ We agreed on a date and picked out a place and we are settled. ๐Ÿ™‚ Part 2 of our travel diaries focuses on the villa we stayed at as this is another place we rented out through VRBO (this time) -- it's kind of our review in photos! ๐Ÿ™‚ Exteriors The villa is located within the Hotel Zone and is between Hotel Riu and Casa Maya, and yes, it's by the beach. It is on a quiet, gated area so we did feel very safe while we were there. We arrived earlier than the rest of our party so we got the chance to enjoy it first. ๐Ÿ˜€ The shape of the pool is like the mirror image of Minnesota... kismet! Interiors There are 4 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms overall and it can easily accommodate […]