Day 825 – Thankful for 2018, Quite Possibly the Greatest Year of My Life Thus Far

Day 825 – Thankful for 2018, Quite Possibly the Greatest Year of My Life Thus Far

Wow…  what a year it has been!  Of all my 40+ years of wandering the Earth this has got to be about the greatest year of my life.  Looking at it holistically my family and I are in excellent health.  I am feeling spiritually sound and centered.  My work is very fulfilling and filled with purpose and great teammates.  We’re doing well financially.  The boys are doing great in pretty much every way I can think of.  We’ve spent so much time doing the things we love (including work).  How could I ask for anything more than that?

My view as I type this blog is nothing short of awe inspiring…


While on this trip Becky and I have talked a lot about what we’ve done in 2018 and it inspired me to plot it all on a map.  After looking at it all I still don’t know how we managed to pack all of it in, but we did!  Not everyone was on all of the travels, for instance Dominic was the only one who went to DC.  When looking at this map I see the physical manifestation of my wanderlust.

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Who knows what 2019 and beyond hold for us…  I doubt that there will be quite as much as we packed in this year, but then again, who knows?  I obviously hope that there is more awesomeness in the next 365, but as I learned in 2017, I’ll make the best of whatever the Big Dude Upstairs throws my way.


Today, none of that matters.  I couldn’t care less about the future now.  At this moment I am so thankful for this moment and for the precious present. 2018, thank you for all of the blessings you’ve given.  Thank you for all of the wonderful memories and moments created.  Thank you for all of the challenges you’ve thrown my way, all of the opportunities to grow.  Thank you for what was quite possibly the best year of my life.


Day 824 – Thankful for a Day at the Beach, the Best Food Truck Ever, and Living My Hawaiian Dream

Day 824 – Thankful for a Day at the Beach, the Best Food Truck Ever, and Living My Hawaiian Dream

What a full day, right???

We spent our last hours on Maui jumping in waves at Big Beach. Dominic was in the water battling waves for almost three hours! A couple of the waves were well over 7′ tall and were crashing pretty hard… it was AWESOME!!! He was loving every minute of it. Gavin and I spent some time in the waves as well, but there was also some digging and building with the super soft sand. Becky kicked back and enjoyed a great book. The entire time was chill and a perfect way to wrap up Maui… almost…

The perfect way to close the books on Maui was a stop at what was the best food truck I’ve ever eaten at. We stumbled upon the Kina’Ole Grill Shrimp Truck on our way back to the airport and Dominic and I grabbed lunch there (Becky & Gavin hit the truck best to it). The food was AMAZING!!! I had seared ahi with wasabi cream sauce, a side salad, and rice… maybe an order of coconut shrimp to share to round it out. Dominic had the best calamari I’ve ever tasted, big thick cut calamari fillets that were super tender and delicious. The food was so good!

Tonight we’re chilling in our new digs for the next few days, a cabin that’s off the grid north of Hilo. Not gonna lie, this is pretty much us living my Hawaiian dream… a cabin in the middle of nowhere, overlooking the ocean, and we’re outside relaxing… life is good… This is pretty much exactly the dream I’ve had in my head since I was here almost six years ago (except that now the Champagne Ponds have been filled in by lava 😢). It’s bringing back memories of chilling on the porch listening to the ocean in one of the most peaceful moments of my life.


Day 823 – Thankful for a Perfect Moment of Serenity on Vacation

There were so many things that almost made it as my blog topic for the day:

  • A wonderful morning run with Becky to start the day with an incredible sunrise over Haleakala
  • A road trip involving driving above the clouds
  • Spending a few hours hiking through National Park #26
  • Life lessons learned while vacationing
  • Eating salads at our AirBNB for suppers to keep a feel of staying healthy while on vacation
  • How Becky and I enjoy the same activities and share similar values
  • Food truck gyros (we didn’t have any, but I could almost taste them!)
  • Remembering lessons learned from past vacations
  • Seeing my home away from home, Hawaii, from the top of Maui
  • Making my boys write about what they’ve done each day on vacation

Each of these started to form into a blog post of their own throughout the day.  Some made it past the early stages and into development, but there was one point in which I knew they were each for naught.  There was a specific moment today in which it hit me so perfectly what I was most thankful for today…

After our long hike, a late lunch, and a grocery store run we hit the beach.  The water was a bit chilly and the temp was dropping so I stayed out of the water and stayed next to Becky while the boys splashed.  Becky requested a song that I’d used in a photo presentation of our last vacation, “Beautiful World” by Colin Hay (of Men At Work fame). I fired it up and we just sat there on the beach quietly as we watched the boys play together.  We didn’t say too much, just chilled and soaked in the beauty all around us.

After a while the sun started to set and the clouds parted just enough to give us a peek of its golden red glow…  and was able to get this picture:


It summed up that moment of serenity perfectly.  What an amazing moment!!!


Day 822 – Thankful for an App that Really Enhanced Our Vacation Experience Today

Day 822 – Thankful for an App that Really Enhanced Our Vacation Experience Today

Last night Becky and I were plotting out our plan of attack for the Road to Hana and had many ideas of what we wanted to see.  At one point she mentioned something that she’d seen online for an app that guides you while on the road.  Without thinking too much about it I jumped online and downloaded it.  Turns out it was the best $6 we spent today!

The app is called Gypsy Guide – Hana and it was fantastic!  Once downloaded the app uses your phone’s GPS to tell when you reach certain points and it then gives you great information.  Sometimes it was pointing out where to stop (Be ready to turn left, but not at the YMCA sign…  take the next left) and other times it was helping us figure out what we’d like to spend our time on.  The part that was especially awesome was on the way back the app told us much about the history of Hawaii.  Even the boys were enthralled and checking to see when the next piece of commentary would fire up!  How cool to get a history lesson while on vacation that the boys were actually interested in?


Between this app and the books my mom got us hooked on (Maui Revealed, The Ultimate Guidebook) we were able to make the best use of our time, seeing what we really wanted to and skipping the things that may have been a little overrated.

We had a great day filled with many unique experiences that we’ll remember for a long time.  Just a hunch, but I’ll bet that we’ll also all remember the app that helped make the day even more memorable.


Day 821 – Thankful for The Boys’ First Snorkel Experience, Making Them Take Swim Lessons, and a BIG Tide Pool Find

Day 821 – Thankful for The Boys’ First Snorkel Experience, Making Them Take Swim Lessons, and a BIG Tide Pool Find

I definitely had some mixed emotions today. On one hand I was very nervous about watching out for the boys. Both are way better swimmers than I am, but as a dad with his two sons out deep in the ocean for the first time I couldn’t help myself. On the flip side I was so pumped for their first snorkel experience!

They LOVED it and we will definitely be doing more snorkeling on this trip… maybe even some snuba! The smiles on their faces were huge and it was easy to see just how much they enjoyed their time underwater. Both the boys even were diving underwater, something I’ve yet to try!

The second thing I’m thankful for today is that we (and by “we” I mean mainly Becky and a little bit of me) “forced” the boys to take swim lessons. Becky and I are not the strongest of swimmers and we wanted the boys to be strong swimmers for all the times we spend on the Mississippi. There were several times they each wanted to quit but we wouldn’t let them. Several times, including today, they both said they were grateful for the push to do something they didn’t always want to do. Part of the reason today was such a success was their strong swimming ability. They were both very confident right from the outset, while respecting the power of the ocean. I hope this lesson sticks with them – sometimes we need to grit through the things we don’t always enjoy to enjoy dreams never before dreamt possible.

Lastly, I’m so grateful for a BIG surprise we found in the tide pools today. The Kreiling family loves their tide pools and these held the BIGGEST surprise we’ve encountered in one before… a TURTLE!!! It was huge and didn’t care one bit that we were only feet away from it. The turtle just kept snacking away on things in the tide pools as we stood and watched. It was AWESOME!!!

Wow, what a day it’s been! Time to watch an amazing sunset…


Day 820 – Thankful for Getting Off the Beaten Path

This morning we started our drive around the west side of Maui and enjoyed some beach time and a great lunch.  My shoulders kept getting more and more tense as there were people everywhere!  I couldn’t believe just how many people there were swarming everywhere around us.  My stress hit its max when we were trying to find a parking spot for a tide pool and saw a line of cars parked about a mile away.  I totally get that it’s my fault for choosing to go there during the busiest time of the day and it’s up to me to choose my mindset.  That said, I could just feel the stress of being surrounded by so many people eating me up.

Funny thing is that within a mile or so of passing those tide pools up we turned left when it seemed everyone else either turned right or stopped…  and we quickly found ourselves on a very quiet stretch of the island.  About that same time we stumbled into what is, so far, my favorite part of the island…  the lush and green valleys in the winding roads of the western side of Maui.

As soon as we were off seemingly on our own I could feel myself relax.  The pressure was off and I felt great.  I couldn’t believe how much more calm I became in such a short period of time.

Thinking more about it, I think that’s one of the reasons I really enjoyed the Big Island and New Zealand so much.  It’s so easy to get a little ways off the beaten path and totally relax in the relative quiet.  To be clear, it’s not so much to be totally alone, just somewhere with a handful of people as opposed to a swarm.  One of my highlights of the day was when Dominic and I ran into a family of five and shot the bull and took a few family pictures for them.  Spending time with them felt great, being packed in bumper to bumper surrounded by people and resorts and retail felt the opposite.

Long story short, Dominic and I were catching back up to Becky and Gavin when we ran into that family.  After taking the pics of the family the two of us scratched our heads and tried to find the trail that Becky and Gavin had taken.  It was difficult to find as there were really no clear trails, just a couple of ghosts of trails that had once been.  I finally told Dominic, “let’s try this one out and see where it takes us, it looks kinda cool.”  Dominic’s response was priceless and hit the nail on the head for me today…

Take the road less travelled and it makes all the difference…  Isn’t that a Bible quote?”  – Dominic Kreiling, 12/26/2018

“No, it’s not in the traditional Bible, but I’m pretty sure it should be Bud!”  I then went on to remind him that it was a Robert Frost poem and then the lightbulb lit up…  “That’s right, that’s the one that Steve has memorized and said when we were driving in the mountains in Colorado!”


Today I’m thankful for getting off the beaten path, it is definitely where I find peace.


Day 819 – Thankful for Working On My Book, Looking Back Through Old Blog Posts, and Everything Coming Up Millhouse

With about 10 hours of flight time I’ve had ample opportunity to get back to a project that’s been on the back burner for a while…  my book.  After only getting a couple of hours of sleep (thanks again for letting us crash at your house last night for about three hours Mom!) the entire first flight to Phoenix was spent with my neck pillow and sleep mask on as I snored away.  There was a little procrastination on the flight from Phoenix to Maui too, but I was able to spend a significant amount of time working on it.

The part that was most amazing to me was that unbeknownst to me I’ve been working on it all along!  So much of what I’ve wanted to add over the past 18 months or so has come from my blog posts.  I’ve spent the past couple of hours going through the posts I wrote from August through December of 2017.  After the blog I’ll move on to the posts from 2018.  In sifting through them I’ve found many instances when I blogged about something related to Dad.  I’ve also had the unique opportunity to relive almost 6 months of my life through re-reading some of the highlights from each day.  It’s mind blowing to see just how much I would’ve forgotten had I not captured so many magical little moments.  I’ve been grinning like a fool the entire time, going from one great memory to the next.  I’m so thankful for taking the time to write each post and to spend time going back through them now.

Lastly, I’m grateful for how everything has been “coming up Millhouse” so far today.  My brother shared that phrase from The Simpsons with me a while back and it’s totally fitting today.  In my favorite instance from the show he complains about how his pants  are way too short for him.  All of a sudden there’s a flood and while his pants stay perfectly dry he emphatically proclaims, “Everything is coming up Millhouse!”

While we were boarding the flight from Phoenix the person behind us told the flight attendant his seat was broken.  I started to get nervous as they started to help him find another seat and brought a couple of mechanics onboard.  I was getting pretty nervous that we might be in for a bit of a delay.  As it turned out they were able to quickly fix it, but they’d already moved the individuals who were in the row.  With that being the case the two people sitting next to me moved back to that row, Dominic slid over to my window seat, and the four of us Kreilings had all six seats in the row all to ourselves!  I had to fight back the urge to shout out, “Everything is coming up Millhouse!”  Gotta love how things work out sometimes like that!



Day 818 – Thankful for Spending Time with My Father In Law

I’ve mentioned it before, but just to re-state it, I won the “In Law Lottery.” While I hear some interesting stories from others about how difficult things can be with their in laws I just can’t relate. They’re great people with huge hearts. Over the past 24 hours I’ve had the opportunity to spend a good chunk of time with my father in law.

Last night we played cards with Dominic and Nathan (my nephew) while everyone else went to the movies. It was so much fun that I’m sure we’ll all remember it for quite some time!

Today everyone went outside to ride sleds behind four wheelers in the fields. As we were wrapping up the first session of sledding (the boys are back outside already as I type this) I took a few minutes to lay flat on my back on a sled in the field. It felt great to enjoy the fresh air and time outside. Out of nowhere Ken pounced on me and squished me! It was hysterical!

While everyone else was either in the house or wrapping up their rides Ken and I decided to take a walk in the woods on a trail he has behind the house. We walked and shot the bull as he pointed out various animal tracks. He shared a couple of hunting stories and talked about how he would be working on the next trails. We took our time and enjoyed the quiet and some time together, exactly what the doctor ordered during a busy holiday season.

Spending time with him in the woods reminded me so much of the times I had done the same thing with my dad so many times in the past. Dad and I would often wander through the woods to cut brush, boughs, and to find places to hunt and trap. He would share stories of hunting as a kid and the things he and his friends used to do in the woods. He’d share his knowledge of wildlife and wilderness survival skills. We’d spend time talking and other time in quiet. As I look back those were amongst my favorite times in the world with him.

The time with Ken has been an awesome Christmas present. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time with him and am so thankful for the opportunity to create some excellent memories together. It’s also been great to bring back so many wonderful memories of times with my dad. While I can’t spend time with Dad this Christmas the time with Ken has helped to fill that space and has left my heart filled with joy.


Day 817 – Thankful for Fun Childhood Memories

Last night while celebrating Christmas we reminded each other of the story of Nick’s remote controlled truck. We had our giant VHS camcorder set up on a tripod near the stairs to record the opening of our presents just like we did every year. Nick’s big present that year was a remote controlled truck that he really wanted. After unwrapping it he turned it on, grabbed the remote and hit the gas. It rocketed forward at an amazingly quick pace… and shot straight past the camcorder and straight down the stairs. The silence of our shock was broken only by the sounds of plastic crunching on each stair and then onto the concrete. The film caught our expressions and they were priceless!!! Just like normal, we all laughed and enjoyed re-living that magical moment.

Throughout the past 24 hours or so there have been many fun childhood memories that have come back to me. Between Christmas with my family and then driving back through Ladysmith on our way to the Thums’ there’ve been many moments that have come back to mind and brought smiles.

As we passed by the Ladysmith High School I was reminded of so many wrestling matches. I still shiver with disgust when I drive by that school 😉

While going for one of our walks yesterday with Nick we had flashbacks to when the to of us used to fight like Dominic and Gavin were.

Eating spritz cookies always reminds me to seeing just how many of those wonderful cookies I could eat as a kid before my parents would cut me off. I always remember making them with my mom and eating some of the dough and I remember how much my dad loved them.

Opening presents with the family reminded me of all the times we did that as a family. We’d usually huddle around the tree after church on Christmas Eve and open a seemingly endless pile of gifts… after taking a family picture like the one below. Gotta love those silk shirts!!!

So many times I’ve stopped and smiled as a memory has dusted off the cobwebs and reappeared in my brain. One other thought has passed through almost immediately after each of those memories… Which memories are the boys making today that they’ll remember forever? Hanging out with their cousins? Joking around with grandparents and aunts and uncles? Staying up late playing games? Just a hunch, but I’m guessing they’ll remember their trip to Hawaii on Christmas Day. Regardless, it brings me great joy knowing that they’ll also have wonderful childhood memories to look back on once they’re old like me!


Day 816 – Thankful for a Chillaxin’ Family Christmas

Today has been exactly the chill family Christmas I was hoping for and always look forward to. We’re all up at Mom’s and I’m enjoying every moment of it.

After hanging out last night we slept in this morning and it felt great to not be in any rush. Once I was up Becky and I headed out to take Ruger for a nice long walk. We enjoyed the fresh air and movement which was exactly what the doctor ordered after all the eating last night! There wasn’t an agenda so we kind of wandered and went even further than we were planning.

We then hung out and just did a lot of chillin’ until lunch. Lots of talking, planning our summer trip together, and working the different building kits the boys received as gifts. There may have been a little eating mixed in too!

Then it was time for lunch… mmm… lasagna!!!

Once the dishes were done we went right back to chillin’. More shooting the bull and relaxation time. Throw in a couple of games for good measure and it was exactly the peaceful Ive been hoping for.

As a big family we played the dice game, our annual fun event in which Mom picks up a bunch of cool stuff, wraps it up, and we play games to see who gets what. Every year we have so much fun with it!

Supper will be ready soon and then we’re sure to fire up some more games and relaxation. I could definitely get used to this pace!

Throughout the day we’ve had a wonderful mix of time a a big family, time in smaller groups, and even some time alone. There’s been zero agenda or stress and it’s perfect.

Total chillaxin’ all day long with some of my favorite people in the world… How could I ask for anything more on Christmas? (Although I jut realized I’be been chillaxin’ a little too much and I don’t have a group picture of us so I’ll go with a Christmas Gavin instead).