Many travelers have heard about the awe-inspiring canyons of Arizona or the unmatched beauty of the mountainous landscapes of the Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado. However, very few people have ever imagined New Mexico as something worthy of a visit. That was also me. I had been to New Mexico before, many years ago quickly passing through, never giving this state a thought in order to reach destinations more grandeur and impressive… or so I thought back then. A series of events put this Land of Enchantment back on my radar again, and my next vacation destination idea was born! A carefully pre-planned road trip took us through 3 states and let us experience the nature extremes – from playing in snow while our fingers were numb from the cold, to sweating in desert heat, seeing nothing but the vastness of sand and wilderness all around us. This also being the area of rich American Indian presence and history, added yet another exciting twist to our trip!

As I was planning our Hawaii vacation, I realized that it would be a shame to spend full 2 weeks in Hawaii but only see one of the islands. Most of our time was allocated to the island of Oahu; however, we absolutely wanted to use the opportunity to see at least one other island. The choice isn’t easy though as there are 6 major islands to visit in Hawaii: Oahu, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Lanai and the Big Island (Island of Hawaii). Each one has its distinct personality, adventures, sights and experiences. We visited Maui on our last trip to Hawaii, so after some thought we decided that this time we would visit the oldest and northernmost island of the Hawaii chain – Kauai, or also called ''The Garden Isle''.

While most people are lucky to visit Hawaii once in their lifetime, we were fortunate enough to return here for the 2nd time. Hawaii as the destination for our vacation came quite unexpectedly while I was shopping around for a warm place to get away during cold Tennessee winter months. Unfortunately, almost all of the Caribbean destinations were unreasonably expensive when flights got combined with car rental and lodging costs, so I had to look elsewhere… As we have family members living on Oahu, I checked flights to Hawaii, but those also approached almost $1000 per ticket. Then I remembered we have a huge amount of flight miles saved up, so I looked up award travel and 'Voila!'; using the flight miles I could buy 4 tickets to Hawaii for just $33.60 TOTAL! That’s all! $33.60 for 4 tickets to see the sun, take in the ocean breeze, and feel the warmth again! And though I was a little hesitant about the 4-hour time difference, 12-hour long flights, and how it would affect the kids’ sleep schedules (and with that – ours), it was not enough to hold me back. Hawaii was where we were going to go!

Usually, when someone mentions 'airplanes' or 'flying' the first thought going through many people’s minds is simply a hop on a plane to go on that long-deserved vacation or take off on a business trip (along with long lines and annoying security checks at the airports). However, if we really think about it, flying (or aviation) is so much more - historic and vintage airplanes, war planes, fighter jets, helicopters, gliders, parachute jumpers, bomb carriers, cargo planes, search and rescue aircraft, and the list goes on and on… And with the USA having one of the strongest and largest military aircraft fleet in the world, it is no wonder there is a need and desire to show it off. It might come as a surprise, but there are major air shows happening almost every weekend somewhere in the US, be it Florida, California or New York. And so, one sunny October weekend we decided to brave the crowds and join the anticipated 250-thousand other spectators to attend one of these air shows – Thunder Over the Rock in Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.