Travel: Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea

There’s a certain charm to driving around town, really exploring, with no particular destination in mind — In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it’s my favorite activity to do.

A few weeks ago my mom and I drove throughout East Hawaii; we drove from Hilo to Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea. It was a beautiful and sunny day with a light breeze; not too hot, not too cold. We grabbed pasta from Pizza Hut (one of our favorite things to eat) and set out to find beautiful places to explore — I’d like to emphasize that here in Hawaii, even if you’ve been to a location a million times, if you let it, it will always take your breath away.


Tuscani chicken alfredo with breadsticks (or in this case just bread) from Pizza Hut. Pepsi for me. Root beer for mom. You can’t go wrong with Pizza Hut.






This area is on the left side of the highway past Pepeekeo. We drove up a few winding roads leading us further into tropical farmlands. We saw horses, goats, cows, various types of flowers, and pretty homes — There’s also a killer view of the great blue sea.





Isn’t red ginger gorgeous?





We drove from Pepeekeo/Papaikou to Honokaa; from Honokaa we drove through Ahualoa to Waimea. Ahualoa winds, is lined with towering trees, and it’ll make you feel as though you’re in a different place…in a good way. It’s my favorite route. It’s also home to a very pretty vacation rental (Um, Pinterest perfect).




To end the day, we went into Waimea to buy some steaks for dinner. It was a great day.


Location(s) – Pepeekeo, Honokaa, and Waimea / Big Island of Hawaii (we did drive through various areas within the Hamakua Coast) – When – Saturday, June 16, 2018 – Time – Afternoon & into the evening / With – Mom / What we did – We took a drive through Hamakua Coast / We explored different areas; drove through small towns and even had time to look at Onomea Bay.

Camera used – Nikon Coolpix L840 / Editing – Fotor photo editor / I edited the photos by adjusting the curves and saturation.


AM NIKKI KAY Signature

Ruth’s Chris Steak House, The Shops at Mauna Lani

Last year we had an amazing dinner for Father’s Day at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, located at The Shops at Mauna Lani here on the Big Island. It was a surprise that I was planning for quite some time for Father’s Day — When I told dad and the rest of the family (including my brother’s friends), everyone was thrilled!

The Kohala Coast is where The Shops at Mauna Lani is; it’s a beautiful area that feels like a very small Waikiki. The Shops has shopping, dining, and entertainment/events for the family.





We arrived at Ruth’s Chris ready to eat! Dad, mom, me, Paul, and Noah arrived in one car, while Nick arrived a little later in another car. The inside of Ruth’s Chris is very nice, and naturally the boys did not know how to behave! In fact, within the first 20 minutes, a drink was knocked over, a certain someone pinched a certain someone, and when the flaming hors d’oeuvre arrived at the table I was scared for my hair. Ha! Seriously. It was the best time with the best people.

For the appetizers, we ordered the Flaming Oysters Rockefeller, Calamari, Seared Ahi/Sashimi, and Escargot. The food was amazing. I absolutely loved the oysters.


Hors d'oeuvre at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Mauna Lani_Fotor

For the main course, I ordered the lamb chops and mashed potatoes. I also ordered a coke, while my drink of choice was a blackberry rosemary cosmo; since I wasn’t drinking any alcohol, the staff was nice enough to change the original raspberry rosemary cosmo to blackberry. Mom ordered a filet with grilled asparagus. Dad ordered either the New York strip or cowboy ribeye (I can’t remember which one), while Paul and Noah both ordered ribeyes…with a side of rice. Meanwhile, Nick ordered a porterhouse for two, and ate all 40 oz.


Blackberry Rosemary Cosmo at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Mauna Lani_Fotor



For dessert, we had raspberry sorbet (the best!), Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, and creme brulee topped with fresh blackberries.





The palm trees were covered in twinkle lights, which made the area even prettier. It was a wonderful night filled with love, tasty food, and a lot of laughter.


AM NIKKI KAY Signature

Life Today | June

Hello June! Wow, I haven’t done a “life today” post since September. Much has changed and yet much has remained the same —

1. I have begun applying to graduate school for the fall semester. In fact, I started the process in February and it has taken nearly four months to complete. I am not going to list any of the schools that I have applied to (yet), however I will divulge that the academic field that I have chosen is intelligence studies. I am nervous, excited, hopeful — Applying to graduate school is a little nerve-racking.

2. Monsoor is healing wonderfully; he is remarkable. I briefly discussed him in a previous post and on my Instagram, however updates on my blog have been non-existent — I have done a stellar job at writing daily updates about Monsoor, however when it comes to posting those updates on here, well, I have been terrible at it! I want to change that because I want the world to know who Monsoor the cat is; a lovable, beautiful, fighter. We have had him now for almost 10 months; he is 1 year 10 months old. He is no longer 3 lbs — I need to weigh him on a scale, however if I had to estimate his weight, he is probably 10 lbs. He is blind; when we found him on the side of the road, at that point in time, he had an infection that took his eyes and nearly his face. Here we are almost a year later and his face is 98% healed and he has adjusted to living blind. He has his own bed/living area, stuffed animals (his favorite is the hippopotamus, maybe because it’s the softest), and he loves playing with the dogs who, in turn, take care of him; Max is his best friend. Monsoor truly lives up to his name.

3. I have had Ray now for 10 months; I adopted Ray from the Humane Society a week before rescuing Monsoor. Ray is a month or so away from celebrating his fifth birthday! He is slightly bigger than your average Red Heeler; I need him to get used to exercise and a diet. I want him to enjoy hiking like Max, however we will need to start with smaller trails and work from there. With the ongoing eruptions, we have poor air quality (it is improving); we need to find a new hiking trail suitable for Ray and Max. Ray enjoys sleeping on the tiled floor and his air mattress; he loves his dog treats (I know, I know. What dog does not?). He enjoys lounging on the front porch and back porch. He is Max’s best friend and wants to be Sophie’s friend but she is not having any of that, and, well, all I can say is cats man…except Monsoor; Monsoor loves humans, cats, dogs, etc. Anyway, Ray is such a sweet boy.

4. Max is as rambunctious as ever, while Sophie has moved back into my bedroom after living in my office…after living in my bedroom. #Dogs #Cats

5. Blogging — I have been getting into a better habit of blogging regularly, however I have thousands of photos (literally) of beautiful places here on the Big Island that I want to post; I need to find the time to organize my photos and write the stories. At the end of the day, I just want to appreciate the good times I have had. At the same time, social media (not necessarily blogging) has been on my mind lately with a HUGE question mark. I love writing. I love photography. I love being able to share a little of my life with those who are interested. However, I am not sure what role, or if there is a role, social media plays in my life or in my profession. Is it good for my profession? Is it pointless? I have no clue.

6. Post-grad life brings new meaning to the phrase “take the bull by the horns.”

7. Nick has been in college now for nine months, while Riley is graduating from high school on the 20th. Time flies!

8. Dad is now the security manager overseeing the security at the hospital in Kailua-Kona; he drives roughly 212 miles a day because work is on the other side of this massive island.

9. I spend a lot of my time with mom, which I love; I spent seven years working with dad in the field and it is now nice to spend quality time with her.

10. Lava — I want to delve deeper into this at a later date, however I am sure many people are aware by now of the lava in Puna. I actually heard over the radio, prior to the fissures opening up in Leilani Estates, that Puna needed to be on alert due to the threat of lava. A couple hours later, the eruptions started in Leilani Estates on May 3, and here we are now with many areas in lower Puna completely destroyed. I live 10.4 miles from the fissures, however the only issues we have experienced in our neighborhood is an influx in traffic and sulfur dioxide from the Kīlauea eruptions. Over 600 homes have been destroyed due to the lava and many people/pets are displaced — It is very concerning and I can only imagine what these people are going through. I am incredibly saddened by these homes burning to the ground, places that I have grown to love being lost, and people that are in trouble. A big THANK YOU to the U.S. Marine Corps, Hawaii Army National Guard, Hawaii Police Department, Hawaii Fire Department, County of Hawaii Civil Defense, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volunteers, and anyone else that I have missed.


AM NIKKI KAY Signature

Why I “Blog”

Why I “Blog”  |  “So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say.”
― Virginia Woolf

On occasion (or maybe it’s accurately 85% of the time) I ask myself why I do certain things. For example, why do I take hundreds of photos of places and things yet there’s a good chance I’ll never get around to posting each and every photo, or why do I blog when I know that it’s not something that is part of my professional life; I ask myself this quite frequently, especially lately. However, I believe I’ve figured out my answer as to why I do take hundreds/thousands of photos, why I continue to blog, and why these activities that don’t actually serve a “higher” purpose for me, mean the world to me.

It’s A Personal Thing

Blogging is an activity that I’ve enjoyed for over a decade now; I’ve watched myself grow as a writer, photographer, and person. I first began blogging when I was 11-Years-Old (glad I have no proof of this); I started blogging because I loved to tell/write stories, and I figured why not write about my story – of course I didn’t really have a story! I ended up not writing about my little 11-Year-Old life (thank the heavens!), but I did end up writing about my obsession with Romania, all things paranormal/supernatural, and what flavors of lip glosses were my favorite (for the record, it was always a tie between papaya and lemon). I was a weird child, I know, I know. NOTE: This was also when LiveJournal and TypePad were popular. I even had a few readers.

Since then I’ve experienced numerous blogging platforms. I moved to Blogger years ago and slowly wrote about other parts of my life, yet nothing really of substance. It wasn’t until 2014 when I started to realize that blogging was my opportunity to share what matters to me and provide readers/family/friends a glimpse into my life; I could share what I wanted to, when I wanted to, and how I wanted to. In 2016, I made the move from Blogger to WordPress; I finally chose the name of my blog (AM NIKKI KAY – It’s a play on my name) and purchased my own domain – the last platform change for me and finally a blog of my own that I actually love.

I enjoy having my own space; a space that is uniquely mine, yet able to be shared with others. My content is authentically me; curated to bring a bit of brightness into my life or into the lives of others. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will shy away from discussing difficult topics or trying times because I want to discuss this as well. That is another reason why blogging is important to me: It allows me to have a voice. This voice can be soft or loud, but it’s my voice. In addition to writing [typing], I can also share photos of my life or even of the life of someone else; I truly love photography and the simple or profound story that each photo tells.

What I’ve learned is that I can pursue what interests me; blogging and photography are outlets. No, I don’t intend to blog for monetary purposes; it’s great that others are able to accomplish this but it’s nothing that I’m interested in. No, I probably won’t ever be a world traveler who is able to photograph the most exotic places whenever I want to; this sounds absolutely wonderful but I doubt it’s in my cards. And yet I want to blog and I want to continue taking photos because it’s what I enjoy doing in my spare time; It’s not going to matter to the Marines or law enforcement or the government, but it does matter to me. That’s why I blog.

The key takeaway here is that if something brings you even a little bit of sunshine, maybe there’s a purpose in it or not, but if it brings you that real happiness then do it.


AM NIKKI KAY Signature


Travel: What’s Shakin | Onomea Bay Drive

My Mom, Dad, Riley, and I went for a drive a few days back (4/4/2017) to Onomea Bay. It was so much fun! We had smoothies at a little place called ‘What’s Shakin’ and we drove around through the scenic route of Onomea Bay. Our Mom and Dad would take us there when we were little, so we loved being able to go back. I mean, seriously, we live in Hawaii and this is the first time we’ve been back in a long time!




I love the yellow and the twinkle lights and the simple sunny atmosphere. It’s sad that this place is closing, I’ll miss it greatly. It will always be a staple of our/my childhood, where my family and I would sit on the grass and drink banana shakes. A time of simplicty where my mind enjoyed thinking of every possibility in life while trying not to choke on a piece of banana.



I had a papaya and strawberry smoothie; same as my dad. My mom had a banana smoothie. My sister, Riley, had a smoothie as well. I literally cannot remember Riley’s flavor of smoothie (sorry Riley!). We also ate these oatmeal cookies that were to die for! What’s Shakin also has a menu of healthy sandwiches, cookies, and numerous other types of foods.





The bridge is my favorite part of the whole drive. It makes me feel like we are in some storybook surrounded by flowing streams and botanical magic. I suppose in that area that is exactly what we are in.




Spiderwebs over the bridge. My heart nearly exploded with happiness from these webs. So beautiful.


Last stop of the trip was to Alae Cemetery, which is actually not near Onomea Bay but actually nearer to Hilo. This is where Nana, Papa, and Tutu are buried in the Mormon section. Unfortunately, I waited in the car because we had Max with us. Next time I’ll be sure to visit them. This place used to be the highlight of my life when I was a child. My siblings and I spent many hours running up and down the hill, stopping by to say hello to our Papa and Tutu.

Take time to explore. Enjoy the world.


AM NIKKI KAY Signature