Tag: beaches

Valencia, Spain Day 2 and 3

spain beach day 2Day 2 and 3 have come and gone here in Valencia and they can be defined by one word- BEACH!!! I’m sure some people would be up in arms at my missing out on cultural attractions and historical landmarks but aside from seeing my sister the reason I came on this vacation is to go to the beach. (Today we should be getting more of those cultural attractions). It’s also been so hot that all I really want to do is be at the beach.

Day 2 we went to a beach called Pinedo Beach.  It is close to where I went on day 1 but a little more crowded. I’d like to find that beach from the first day because I think it was still the nicest I have been to yet.

This time Anna and Steve were able to join me at the beach and we had a great time together. These beaches are different than what you get in Hawaii- more of a commercial feel but it is still beautiful and tons of fun!

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When we got home Anna made Italian food, we talked and then crashed! I still haven’t adjusted to the time zone change yet and have fallen asleep very early each night I’ve been here.  That’s probably why it is 6 am and I am writing this post right now. I am also finding it a bit hard to sleep with the heat. It’s just tough to deal with being hot all the time.

I have started to get more sun despite my best attempts. I think it just goes with the territory when you are the beach a lot. Everyone gets a little pink.

sunburnThe next day was Sunday so I went to church on my own.  That was an interesting experience attending sacrament meeting without understanding a single word that was spoken.

church in spainThen I ducked into some little shops which was really fun to interact with the local Spanish people.  So far I haven’t had any real Spanish food yet but everything I’ve had has been delicious. There is a pastry shop close to my sisters that was a lot of fun to try the various treats.

spain treatsWe were all so overheated we decided to go to the beach again but this time went to Playa de la Patacoma. This is a very crowded beach but it had nice big waves that were very fun to play with.


I almost wished I’d had a surfboard but it was fun to use my safe swimmer and ride the waves a little bit. I think you can see in these videos how strong the waves were.  It was great!

We were all pretty tired out from the strong waves and 3 days of sun but it was still a wonderful time.


After the beach I started to notice I had been bitten by something in the ocean. This of course concerned me especially with how purple it appeared.  I didn’t want it to have some kind of venom that would really hurt me.

biteBut Anna and I went to a pharmacy and got some gel with antihistamine and pain relief qualities. It has already helped a lot.

spain day 3Between the bite and having more than a little bit of redness from the sun we may not do a beach day today. I think it is good to give your body one day to heal and then be ready for the next day! Like I said we are going to the market today and that should be very fun.

I hope you all have a Happy 4th of July holiday and we will be celebrating America one way or another here in Spain!

Tampa Trip Day 3-5

So I am back in Utah and I think you can tell it was a great trip because I only found time to post once very quickly.  I was having too much fun!

Day 3-

This was Sunday and Kim had gotten us tickets to a Rays/Red Sox game.  It was nice to have one day away from the beach (only one) and we rooted for Boston.  There was even a fight! 😉

Play ball
Play ball
The fight! Cleared the benches
The fight! Cleared the benches
Always like a good hot dog
Always like a good hot dog
Kim, the red sox fan at the game.  I became adopted sox fan for the day!
Kim, the red sox fan at the game. I became adopted sox fan for the day!

When we were driving home it started to rain, thunder, lightning and hail.  You can see it in the trip video below.  For the next 3 days it rained but always on our way back to the house, so it was perfect timing!

Each night we got home around 5 and we ate dinner and watched a movie.  We viewed Frozen, Tangled, Emperors New Groove and Return to Me!  So fun.

We also had a ton of laughs over a Mormon romance novel I brought with me that was pretty bad. See description below.


Yes, he smelled like rootbeer…So romantic.  It was very funny.

So, there were a lot of laughs and also some heart to hearts.  Kim and I had been friends in high school but she wasn’t one of my best friends.  After 17 years of not seeing each other and being from different parts of the country, religions, and everything else I wondered if we would have anything in common, but we had lots.  It turns out we had both been through similar career struggles.  We had had bosses that made us nuts and anxieties to deal with as working women.  We both shared dating struggles and being single.  We both had lots of memories and had a similar sense of humor.  We both love New York and love the beach.

It certainly is another reason to be grateful for facebook.  Kim and I had reconnected during the election because we are both fiscal conservatives and needed some political venting (she lived in NY at the time).  We would chat on fb and I had inquired about staying with her in New York some time.  Then she told me she had moved to Tampa.  Being the nice person she is she invited me to stay there and being the bold, without boundaries person I am I said ‘let’s do it!’.  Most people would probably shrug off an offer like that as being polite but I just had a feeling to go for it.

So many times in my life I have been benefited by not worrying about being polite or following some idea of normal behavior and this is certainly one of them.  I’m glad I didn’t worry about what someone’s ulterior motives might have been and took her at her word.  I think we are both glad and it will be the first of many such visits.

Day 4 and 5-

Monday and Tuesday were pretty simple- beach, beach, beach, beach.  All together we went to Madeira, Passe de Grille, Honeymoon Island and Fort De Soto.  Passe de Grille was my favorite because of the closeness of the beach to the parking and the cute little town.

beach18 beach14 beach13 beach12 beach10 beach9 beach8 beach7 beach6I feel blessed.  Blessed to have seen God’s beautiful oceanic creations and even more blessed to have made what I know will be a life-long friend.

At least to me vacations should remind you of why you work everyday and how perfect before starting a new job to remember the potential for happiness that lies in my heart.  It’s a good day to be Rachel Wagner my friends.  A new job, new opportunities, beautiful memories, great friends and a happy heart.

I’ve done my fair share of complaining on this blog and I want to let you all know that never have I been happier than this moment right now. 🙂

This video is a little bumpy so I don’t know if you will enjoy it but it shows how beautiful a trip it was and how much joy it brought me.

No Vacation: No Distraction

Everyone knows I’m a huge traveler and love experiencing new places, cultures and food.  So you might find it surprising when I talk about my plans for the summer. I have decided to take NO VACATIONS.

No Beach This Year 😦

Here’s why:

I have a goal to swim a 5k at the Deer Creek Open Water Swim.  This is an ambitious goal- 3 times what I struggled to swim at the GSL race.  I know I will not be able to accomplish this goal without some serious dedication.   Even with the dedication it will be a challenge.

I had thought about going to Disneyland but I have to go to California for work/reunion (doesn’t count as a vacation, more like a business trip) and if you add Disneyland it will be 2 weeks away from my training.  I can’t risk that.

I also decided to put the  money I would have put to travel towards my training.  I have started meeting with a dietician and am taking UFC kickboxing classes (they are so much fun and the trainer is great!).  This week I was supposed to take the week off and rest my muscles…I have worked out every day.  Not too successful.  Sorry doc!

I’ve also been watching what eat even more carefully and am using myfitnesspal.com to help me keep track.  I found I was either eating too much or too little.  Now it is closer to the right balance.  By not going on vacation I am able to control my diet more carefully.

I still have vacation days to use but I plan on applying those to recovery days and then if I have extra I may take a trip in the winter to NYC.  Maybe New York for Christmas! (The Tony awards peaked my interest in a couple shows).

What I would love to do is save money so I can go to the swim camps in Costa Rica.   That would be a dream come true! It would also be an easy trip to go by myself because it is planned, group oriented.  I don’t feel like I am a good enough swimmer yet for it to be worth it but I’d love to go!


I’m really going to miss the beach this year. It’s just not summer without the beach but at least I have a salt lake to enjoy and there is always the man-made strangeness of Black Ridge in Herriman.

Black Ridge reservoir (more like a cow pond behind some houses) strange place but nice!

I’ve just got to make sure that with no vacation I don’t make myself crazy.  I’ve got to find ways to relax within my normal schedule.  Especially with training this could be difficult.  I do not want to get over-stressed like I did before the GSL (no promises but I’m going to try!).

What do you do to relax when you can’t vacation or travel?


Hawaii Photos

Well friends I am having a great time here on Oahu!  Today was the best day so far.  In the morning my roommates went to hike Diamondhead which is a giant crater and a bit beyond my exercise stamina, so instead I went to the beach close to the house.  It was fantastic!  (And yes I went by myself which I have no problem doing at all.  I live alone for goodness sakes so why would I have issues going to the beach alone yet some people seem shocked by this behavior?)

The waves were the perfect strength and I swam until my arms ached and then I read and soaked up sun.  (One of the many great things about swimming in the ocean is you can swim forever and hardly move a meter!  Its like a giant endless swimming pool!) When the girls got home we went to the Hawaii temple and did a session which was peaceful and thought-provoking as usual.  When we got home we ate a delicious healthy dinner and had ice cream while watching 500 Days of Summer– one of my favorites.

It really might be the best day of my life.  Aside from getting caught in a dozy of a rain storm it was practically perfect in every way.  (The rain and clouds actually kept it cooler than normal and so it had its positive side!).

I think  my body likes Hawaii.  Since I got here my blood sugar levels have been better than ever.  Today it was down to 75 and I felt great!  That is the lowest it has ever been since I started testing in February.  Amazing.

It all makes me wonder if I will ever have the guts to really move here.  If it wasn’t so far away from family and my job I’d move here in a second but those are big factors…I would love it though.  I know people say ‘Its not the same to live where you vacation’ and I get that but I am convinced I would love it.  Just the continual sun would do me good.  Hmmm…I can fantasize and maybe someday I will do it?  Maybe once I get healthy I’ll be ready to conquer new challenges and places?  We will see.

Anyway, I am having a great trip and am very happy.  Here are a few photos of the vacation so far!  Enjoy! (I know its tedious to look at other people’s vacation photos but if people can post a million photos of their kids on blogs, I can post a few of my vacation! 🙂

I will keep updating throughout the trip.  Take care! (Btw I did go with people!  All these photos just happen to be of only me!)

Love this photo

In front of the Dole plantation

Today at the beach
There were 8 sea turtles at the beach by the house. The most I've ever seen!
pretty sailboat picture I took today. I am trying to learn more about photography bc everyone else in my family is great.
the Hawaii temple
A rainbow connection

My Hawaiian Fantasy

Of Hawaii, Mark Twain said

“When you are in that blessed retreat, you are safe from the turmoil of life; you drowse your days away in a long deep dream of peace; the past is a forgotten thing, the present is heaven, the future you leave to take care of itself. You are in the center of the Pacific Ocean; you are two thousand miles from any continent; you are millions of miles from the world; as far as you can see, on any hand, the crested billows wall the horizon, and beyond this barrier the wide universe is but a foreign land to you, and barren of interest”

As everyone knows I love Hawaii. For years I wondered why my cousins made such a big deal about Hawaii and then in 2007 I went and was totally hooked.  There are literally two things I don’t like about Hawaii- cockroaches and the heat/humidity.  Both a small price to pay for tropical paradise.

For my entire life Grabber has owned a time-share of sorts on the Northern Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.  (For the life of me I will never understand how it took me so long to get to the island! I blame my parents.  What were they thinking?) It is near a small town called Haleiwa.  The house itself is actually two homes- one called the Grabber house, and one called the Cottage.  As the name suggests the house has more space where the cottage gets the view and the screened in porch.  The lot sits in front of a rocky section of beach with amazing views and adjacent to another beach known for sea turtles.

the rocky beach outside the house
the house

Haleiwa is also 18 minutes to Laie, Hawaii home of BYUH and the Polynesian Cultural Center.  This is an amazing cultural park where you can learn all about the native music, dances and food.  Definitely worth the money. Even closer to the house there are a lot of fun places to eat in Haleiwa including the Grass Skirt Grill, Cafe Haleiwa and the Dole Plantation. I could spend my entire trip in Haleiwa and Laie and be perfectly content.

At the PCC getting inked!
matsimotos shaved ice. So good after a long day at the beach

It almost goes without saying how much I love the beaches in Hawaii.  I love the beach anywhere but especially in Hawaii.  On the good beaches the sand is soft, the breeze is light and the views spectacular.  I can’t think of a better day then setting up my beach chair, reading a good but silly book (there are particular types of books for reading on the beach- I will have to do a post on that some day) and soaking in the sun (sunscreen on!).  My favorite beaches are the ones with soft sand and deep enough water to really swim in.  I will go until my arms are about to fall off.  I sometimes have to be reminded to take a break.  I know everyone says this but I honestly could go to the beach every day and not tire of it.  Its the best!

it just doesn't get better than this


Stef and I at hanauma bay after a long day snorkeling. Excuse the frizzy hair! Stef is coming with me again this year. I love her!

Now you may find it odd for me to be posting about Hawaii now when I am not planning on another visit for nearly 6 months.  Perhaps it is strange  but what you may not understand is I literally think about Hawaii almost every day.  I think most posts would be about Hawaii if I let it. I have a fantasy of moving there some day and starting my own smoothie and bookstore (to sell all good books for reading on the beach!).  I promise you this- I will find a way to retire there.  It’s happening so get ready!  Also, it’s snowing like crazy here in Utah…Oh, to be back at my island home…. Maybe I will get lucky and meet someone from Hawaii and he’ll swoop me off and we’ll live there forever….Wow.  Better control myself!

Anyway, I love Hawaii.  The first time I went was one of the worst years of my life and I think Hawaii saved me.  It made me happy when little else could.  It is my happy place. I hope that all of you get to enjoy it some day.

My upcoming trip in June should be even more fun because I will be trim and in shape!  Can’t wait.  My goal is to take surfing lessons.  Even if I stink at it I want to try.  Aloha!