Photo of the Day (12.26.2009)

Mele (day after) Kalikimaka, everyone! I could be predictable and post a Christmas-themed photo for the day, but I happened upon a nice shot from fellow Gadling blogger Aaron Hotfelder and just had to commend him for this glorious shot of cowboys in Aruba. Horseback riding in the Caribbean is one of the last things I would think to do, and such large cacti are the last things I would expect to see, too, but that’s the joy of travel, don’t you think? It’s wonderful unpredictability.

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Gadlinks for Wednesday 12.23.2009

‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve and all through the house
The children are stirring; you can’t hear the mouse
After some ham or Christmas meat
You’ll all settle in for your winter feast
Take some time to browse the latest reads
From the ever reliable Gadlinks feed.

(I’m not much of a poet, but I try. Enjoy the last few hours of Christmas hype!)

More Gadlinks here.

Obamas to spend the holidays in Hawaii

There’s no official word from the White House, but the rumor mill (a.k.a. all of the local news sources) are saying that the Obamas will spend their second consecutive Christmas in Hawaii.

The Obamas spent last year lounging in their luxurious Paradise Point Estate compound on the shores of Kailua on Oahu’s windward shore, and it looks like they’ll enjoyed their stay enough to return this year as well. According to the estate’s website, “In the interest of security, this site will remain offline until January 4th, 2010.” The Obamas will supposedly be arriving in Hawaii some time around Christmas Eve and leaving shortly after the new year.

Kailua is one of the state’s most idyllic neighorhoods. Lanikai Beach continues to be rated as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Many visitors enjoy kayaking to the nearby Mokulua Islands (pictured here). Kailua Town is quaint and full of great eateries and shops. It’s really no wonder the Obamas enjoy the peace and beauty of this part of the island. Having grown up in Honolulu, Obama knows the best place to take a relaxing vacation. Last Christmas, he was spotted bodysurfing at Sandy Beach, a world-class beach with occasionally neck-breaking shorebreak.

At this time last year, the island experienced a very unfortunate and embarrassing blackout that left even the Obamas scrambling for the nearest generator. Let’s hope that this year HECO has its act together and lets us all have a peaceful holiday in paradise.

Living in the Now: Travel gratitude

Sam Chillingworth, a high school classmate, friend, and now featured writer in the inspiring book series Wake Up… Live the Life you Love, recently passed on a book he contributed to called Living in the Now. At the time, I had just returned from a two-month trip to the mainland and Peru, and (as I usually do when I return from a trip) was experiencing a bad case of travel hangover.

There’s nothing like reading a collection of inspiring essays about embracing life. Some of the tips I found were so helpful in putting life — and, more importantly, travel — in perspective that I thought it would be worthwhile to pass on some life and travel wisdom to ye faithful Gadling readers. Seeing that the new year is so quickly approaching, these tips should generate some good ideas for your 2010 resolution(s). On Sunday, I outlined how to travel in 4D, and yesterday we learned about the 80/20 travel rule. Here’s my third and final travel tip to get your new year started on the right foot:

It’s easy to forget just how lucky we are to have the freedom to travel — and to have the freedom to choose what we want to do from day to day. My friend Sam wrote in his essay about living in the now, “[Gratitude] has allowed me to travel to more than 15 different countries, experience adrenaline-filled adventures that would blow your mind, and brought me the forgiveness, happiness and love I’d once longed to receive.” Being thankful for life itself and the great possibilities that exist from one day to the next is the first step toward embracing all of the treasures along the journey of life. When you’re on the road, it’s easy to be present and totally engaged, and it’s even easy to be thankful for the gift of travel itself. The true challenge, I find, is the gratitude that should exist even after your trip is over.

After some very difficult personal struggles, Sam began to appreciate life by watching the sun set into the Pacific Ocean every evening: “I would be there no matter what I was doing, even if all I saw was the final moment.” When your travel sun sets, there’s another new one on the horizon — another beautiful journey that begins each day. Be grateful for every moment you have to experience it fully.

Part of my plan for the new year is to say thank you for the gift of freedom, travel, and life. We are all fortunate souls for having all three.

Gadlinks for Monday 12.21.2009

Is it really the Monday before Christmas? (Yes.) Are you ready for Christmas cheer — and preferably loads of spiced eggnog? (Maybe.) How about some Gadlinks to get this week started? (ALWAYS!)

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening!

More Gadlinks HERE.