Anna Maria Locke


Our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii

2018Anna Locke

Last month we decided to take advantage of Ben's spring break and escape the endless Midwest winter by heading to Hawaii to explore the island and visit our friends Kate and Doug, who own a coffee farm in the Kona region.

It was our first trip to Hawaii (well, since I was 18 months old!) and we both agreed it was the best trip we've ever taken - truly magical!

Here's a travel recap of our vacation, and some of our favorite spots on the Big Island that you must visit if you ever get the chance!

sunshower farms.jpg

We flew into Kailua Kona on Sunday night, rented a car, and drove up the mountain in the dark to our home away from home Sunshower Farms! This is what the house looks like in the day, but in the pitch blackness it was quite the adventure for our little Mazda, up winding steeper-than-Berkeley back roads. But we made it and woke up the next morning in HAWAII!!!

Kona is to coffee like Napa is to wine. So many big and small family farms growing delicious coffee beans on the side of a volcano. We may be biased because it's owned by our good friends but Sunshower Farms is definitely worth a visit for a tour and "cupping" aka coffee tasting on the back lanai overlooking the Pacific ocean!

We hopped on a tour one morning to learn more about the farm.

Coffee beans grow on trees and it takes about four years for a plant to produce fruit. The flowers are small and white stars, the berries turn red when ripe, and inside are usually two mushy slimy beans that are roasted into delicioiusness!

Doug and Kate live entirely off the grid, so all the water for the farm and household comes from these giant rain catchment tanks that look like janky swimming pools. 

After the farm tour we headed to the lanai for a coffee "cupping," which basically means a tasting where you take notes on the aroma of dry and wet grounds and taste of different roasts.

I cut caffeine out of my life 2.5 years ago but of course I drank allllllll the fresh coffee while we were in Kona and it was worth it! Fun fact: Kona coffee is the only kind where you can literally say you are "buying local" (as in from the USA). 

If you want to learn more about the coffee industry, sustainability, ethical practices, and how a lawyer and financial trader from Chicago left their jobs to start a farm in Hawaii, check out the interview I recorded with Kate here!

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On our first full day we dodged the random thunderstorms to visit Pu`uhonua O Hōnauna National Historical Park, an ancient sacred site and place of refuge. It was beautiful and very interesting to learn more about the history of the island and the native culture.

"In old Hawai'i, if you had broken a law, the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden foods. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest pu'uhonua, or place of refuge.

As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki'i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe temple, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved." (source)

Afterwards we stopped for happy hour mai tai's and fish tacos on the beach! It was the perfect way to kick off our trip.


The next day we drove north along the west coast to check out a couple of gorgeous beaches, Hapuna Beach State Park and Waialea Beach. On the way home we stopped at a little juice bar and I got the best $8 Acai Bowl of my life. Probably because I was so hot and dehydrated, but it brought me way too much joy, haha. 

The big island is unique because it's (obviously) the biggest island in the chain and also the only one that still sits over an active volcano. The landscape is varied - dry and volcanic desert-like on the west coast, more lush and rainforesty on the east coast. In the north and center of the island there are rolling fields and ranches, and the two giant summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.


Fun fact: Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain on earth, 33,000 ft from base to peak! It still had snow on the summit.

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(more scenes from the farm!)


Another sunny day we went for a hike down to the Captain Cook monument, which took us down through grasses and shrubby woodlands, across a lava field, and finally to a bright blue cove filled with snorkelers and boats. The way down was beautiful. The hike back up ... well let's just say I was sweating more than I do at hot yoga and we had to stop at a gas station for emergency fluids before recouping with the best beers and macadamia nut cookies of our life!

We ended up driving literally all over the Big Island to explore, including a mini trip-within-trip overnight adventure to Volcanoes National Park (just in time before it closed due to the eruption!). 

There is an actual little community named Volcano on the outskirts of the park, where we stopped for lunch at the hidden paradise of Volcano Garden Arts, a garden/arts center and cafe. 

The eastern side of the island is considered the rainy side, but we got lucky and it ended up being the first sunny day in months according to the locals! We grabbed a delicious lunch in the garden and got to pat the resident giant bunny Noble.

After lunch we headed into the park itself, which is one of the most unique places I've ever been, and one of my favorite things about national parks is learning about the natural history of the area #geographynerd. The park is centered around Kilauea, the only currently active volcano in Hawaii. The big island is currently situated over a "hot spot" in the ocean, and the movement of tectonic plates over time is what caused the creation of the entire chain of islands now called Hawaii.

We came back to the park at night to see the crater after dark, and it was literally the coolest thing I've ever seen -- active lava shooting up!

The next morning we continued to drive north up the east side of the island to visit a couple of waterfalls, the city of Hilo, and the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden.


First up was Akaka Falls and it was by far my favorite waterfall. There's a gorgeous path that winds through lush tropical plantings that brings you through towering trees and finally right up to the waterfall.

If you look at the distance you can see Mauna Kea's snow covered peak!

After grabbing lunch at an adorable vegan cafe in Hilo, we stopped by the Hawaii Botanical Gardens and it was another experience I would highly recommend -- it was like stepping inside a tropical oasis.


We stopped by Rainbow Falls on our drive home, which was also beautiful (and randomly located on the edge of a subdivision! You see all these photos and think they are in the middle of the jungle wilderness, ha) but Akaka Falls is still my favorite.

On our final full day in Hawaii, Kate took us on an adventure around the north and east sides of the island, through the adorable town of Hawi and across the Kohala region, which is full of ranches and rolling green hills.

One of the things that struck us the most is the diversity of microclimates, landscapes, and ecosystems on the Big Island! You have lava fields, dry arid deserts, beaches, mountains, rainforests, rolling plains, pretty much everything on one small lump of rock in the middle of the Pacific.

We stopped at the iconic Pololu Valley for a photo op, although decided not to hike down to the black sand beaches, still recovering from our Captain Cook adventure lol. 




Overall, we were in Hawaii for a week but having at least three more days would have been perfect!

Next time we want to snorkel, have more beach time, and go to the observatories on the top of Mauna Kea (there was a full moon during the week we visited, too bright for good star gazing).

Hawaii is truly a magical place, and I'm grateful we were able to visit and also learn more about the history of the island and the original Polynesians who were the first to call it home.

Living in the US, it's easy to take our colonial heritage for granted but I think the least we can do is bring awareness to the reasons why we have this gorgeous country in the first place.

Ben and I both agreed this was the best trip we've ever taken (especially together), it was truly magical and sad to leave, but we know we'll return!

Mahalo Kate and Doug for being such awesome hosts and friends :)

p.s. if you are a coffee lover, you can order their home grown and hand roasted beans here! THIS COFFEE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, it's so worth it. You know you wanna be a coffee snob. Our fave is the Kalikimaka blend!


Eating, drinking, and hiking our way through Galena, Illinois

2017Anna Locke

It's crazy that this summer marks the fifth year Ben and I have lived in Chicago!

I grew up in central Illinois and never thought I'd be a city girl, but I guess it's official now. I do love this town. It's where we were newlyweds, where I went through my crazy quarter life crisis, and where we've made some lifelong friends. 

But oh my gosh you guys, the energy of Chicago is intense. It's a scrappy, fast paced city of hustlers, movers, shakers, corruption, violence, extreme weather, more delicious restaurants than you could ever visit in a lifetime, and a patchwork of neighborhoods that are each as culturally and economically distinct as a small country. 

We live in a neighborhood that's as quiet as it gets, but there's still always a sense of urgency and go-go-go. I try my best to carve out a little oasis at home, but sometimes I just have to get out of town back into the "normal" part of Illinois to relax and breathe!

In just one hour you can drive out into cornfields and big skies, and take a giant exhale.

Ben and I love to explore new places together and take mini getaways, since there are so many cool towns within a half day's drive of us in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Last week he had some time off work between the end of the school year and the beginning of summer school, so we decided to visit Galena, IL. It was my first time there and I fell in love because it's SO ADORABLE!

It's on the northwestern most edge of Illinois, only 20 minutes or so from the borders of Iowa and Wisconsin. In the 1800's it was one of the biggest steamboat ports, and the very first mining "boomtown" before the silver and gold rushes in California. (Lead deposits = the name Galena).

The topography and history of the area is also unique and fascinating, especially to a geography nerd like me.

It's situated in a patch of land stretching into southern Wisconsin called the Driftless area, untouched by the glaciers that scraped the rest of the Midwest flat, leaving glacial "drift" (fertile, mineral rich soil) behind. 

There are rolling hills, rare species of plants, archeological remains, deposits of minerals, and unique microclimates as a result of the un-glaciated terrain, which gives you the feeling of being in a completely different country.

On top of the landscape, the actual town of Galena hasn't really been touched since the glory days of lead and zinc mining, and it's been revitalized into a trendy tourist destination full of boutiques and restaurants. 

Since Ben is a history teacher, we also wanted to visit because Ulysses S. Grant had a home in Galena and there's a lot of Civil War era history there, including an unexpectedly awesome small history museum!

Because we're cheap, we stayed at a Ramada on the edge of town but next time I definitely want to check out one of the cute bed and breakfasts or inns. 

In 36 hours, we packed as much into our trip as we could!


The town was very quiet since it was the middle of the week right after Memorial Day, and the weather was perfect so we started our adventures at the Casper Bluff reserve, where there are ancient burial mounds that are part of the larger Effigy Mound culture that existed between A.D. 700 and A.D. 1000 in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois. We honestly couldn't figure out what was a mound versus a hill, and the bugs were driving Ben cray, but we met some adorable cows!

Oh, don't mind us. We're just the cliche city folk who are gonna take a selfie with your cows...

Oh, don't mind us. We're just the cliche city folk who are gonna take a selfie with your cows...

After our hike, we drove over to Galena Cellars vineyard, a gorgeous little winery, for a tour and wine tasting. After living in Oregon, I've turned into a bit of a wine snob, but I was really impressed with this place. It was super homey and friendly, and they had dozens of wines to try! We'll definitely be back. There are also lots of fun events there and hellooooo wedding venue if you are looking for a unique event space.

For just $10 you can get a tour of the facility and a wine tasting with 6 pours. The wine tasting ladies were very nice, friendly, and enthusiastic about the wines and gave us a couple extra tastes too. We ended our visit by grabbing a couple of (CHEAP AND HUGE) glasses of our favorite wines, some cheese and crackers, and sat on the front porch looking out over the countryside.


That night we had dinner at Vinny Vanucchis, an adorable Italian restaurant with a great patio. 

The next day we started off at the Galena Historical Society and U.S. Grant Museum which was very impressive and full of things to learn about the geographic, cultural, and political history of the area (must visit if you are a Civil War buff). In a really cool twist of fate, the building is situated literally on top of one of the original mining shafts, which you can peek down into! The museum also houses the original Peace in Union painting by Thomas Nast, depicting the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox.

It was still fairly early by the time we made it out of the museum, so we grabbed coffee and wandered around the park and downtown shops. 

We wanted to check out the brewery for lunch, but it was unfortunately closed on Wednesdays so we went to a tavern called Gobbie's with the most AMAZING unhealthy appetizer I've ever eaten in my entire life. They're called beer nuggets and I still don't know what that means, but they appear to be deep fried herbed dough bites dusted with Parmesan and served with a delicious chunky marinara sauce. NOM. 

On our way out of town we stopped at Blaum Bros Distilling Co. because heck, the theme of this trip was eating and drinking everything possible. It followed the theme of every other place: unexpectedly amaaaaazing! Ben sampled a few of the liquors and I had a delicious bourbon cocktail.

We worked off the buzz with a visit to Horseshoe Mound, which seems to be the highest point in the area with gorgeous views and a painfully steep little hiking loop. I mean, can you believe this is Illinois, only 3 hours from Chicago?

When people call the Midwest a "flyover zone," I say hey. Watch yo'self and come see and eat and drink your way through MY Midwest. (Also see: Bayfield, WI).

What to do in Galena

Galena Historical Society & Grant Museum
Wander up and down the boutiques and shops -- eat all the samples in the kitchen and canned good stores!
Hike or picnic at a nature preserve
Galena Cellars Vineyard (there's also a tasting room downtown)
Blaum Bros. Distilling Co.

On our list for next time:

The Grant Home
Belvedere Mansion and Gardens

Where to eat in Galena

Gobbie's -- Lunch or dinner, great outdoor space. EAT THE BEER NUGGETS (they come as a side with pretty much everything). The pizza looked good too.
Vinny Vannucchis -- Family style Italian restaurant with lots of pasta. Great outdoor patio and Negroni cocktails.
The Market House Restaurant -- Basic Midwest comfort food with lots of gluten free options. Good for cheap lunch!

On our list for next time (lots of places are closed Tuesday and Wednesdays):

Victory Cafe
Otto's Place
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fritz and Frites
Galena Brewing Company


Where to stay in Galena

We stayed at the Ramada Inn because we wanted to spend all our money on food and drinks, lol! It was a very nice and clean motel, but skip the continental breakfast. If you want more of a special experience, there are a bajillion adorable bed and breakfasts and quaint inns downtown.

Where is your favorite place to go for a weekend getaway?

xo Anna

Beachbody Coach Summit 2016 Recap!

August 2016, 2016Anna Locke
It was about no longer being the kind of person who takes what she can get, and finally becoming the kind of person who creates exactly what she wants.
— Jen Sincero

Well, Ben is back to school this week so it's officially time for me to get back to work and update the bloggyblog. Consider this my "What I Did With My Summer" report, starting with my Coach Summit recap!

In July we took an EPIC trip to Nashville, TN for the annual Beachbody Coach Summit, which is kind of like a conference, girls trip, family reunion, personal development retreat, business and leadership training event, the Academy Awards, and the Olympics all rolled into one.

I'm not exaggerating.

This was my second Summit and I was super excited to be able to share it with Ben! He's such a good sport, and was obviously equally excited to spend a long weekend in a house with 10 other women just like me.

Last year I arrived in Nashville with wide eyes, and open heart, and absolutely no idea what to expect. It was a whirlwind and I felt like my heart and soul were blown wide open with the energy, emotion, knowledge, and sheer joy of spending time with some of my favorite people, immersed in learning and sharing and living what we're most passionate about - growing and learning and helping other people. You can read my gushy 2015 new coach recap here!

This year was a completely different yet equally amazing experience. I'm another year older, wider, and more experienced, and HOLY CRAP it's pretty amazing how much we can change and grow in just one year.

I was a lot calmer and able to relax and enjoy being in my element and soaking everything in.

Last year I shared Summit with 6 of the coaches on my team Inspire Joy, and we crammed into rooms at a cheap motel on the side of the highway. We woke up at 5:30am to workout with Shaun T and Autumn Calabrese, stayed up past midnight at the celebration events, partied a little too hard, survived on Shakeology and adrenaline, and left feeling on fire and overwhelmed in the best possible way.

This year I brought 10 coaches on my team, and we decided to rent a house in the suburbs so we could have a kitchen, more space, and a little more peace and calm to retreat from the high energy of the event. BEST DECISION EVER.

Yup, we had 10 women plus Ben in one house. Ben survived... and I'm proud to say we made it everywhere on time and had zero girl drama. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and we don't accept drama over in this club! Chill is the word.

Our first night we made dinner together and spent the night drinking wine, Snapchatting, and soaking it all in. It was the first time a lot of us had met each other in "real life" after spending hours and hours together online in our team webinars and groups.

The craziest part is that I met every single one of these women through social media, Instagram, and the internet, but together it felt like reuniting with long lost soul sisters. 

The modern world is CRAZY AWESOME, making it so easy to connect with women literally just like you.

Psst - this is your sign...if you've been stalking my blog and thinking "omg we could be friends"...reach out and let's make that happen!

Thursday was the first official day of Summit, so I headed downtown to the Music City Center to check-in, and then had to report to the big football stadium for rehearsals for the night's big opening recognition ceremony!

This year I was recognized as a One Star Diamond Coach, which means that I have at least one Diamond ranked coach on my team. To be a Diamond you have to lead an organization of at least 12 coaches, and it's the first major milestone if you're serious about creating a part-time or full-time income through Beachbody coaching. (My goal next year is to have at least 8 diamonds on my team!)

I also was honored for being a Success Club Legend, which means I helped at least 3 new clients every single month get started on their health and fitness journeys for 24 consecutive months!

Beachbody is ridiculously great at recognizing coaches for their hard work. 

For the recognition rehearsal, I was herded into a tunnel beneath the football field with all the other new One Star Diamond coaches, and felt like Beyonce walking out into an NFL stadium. There were on and off thunderstorms and downpours, but Beachbody simply handed out ponchos and we got it done. They're seriously impressive at event organization.

Here are a couple pictures of the empty stadium during rehearsal, and then Ben and I at the opening Celebration!!

Last year I sat with my coaches in the nosebleed seats in the stands, and made it my goal to make it down to the floor seats by this year ... and I actually pulled it off!

It's SO important to create goals and a vision for your life so you can constantly work towards something bigger that matters to you. Put it out into the universe and everything will fall into place, even if it turns out a little different than what you originally expected.

Knowing that my girls were in the stands cheering me on was the best feeing ever and was so proud to represent our team!

Thursday night's opening celebration was full of recognizing all the top coaches and leaders in the network and hearing about the exciting new products and programs that will be launching throughout the rest of the year.

Friday and Saturday were full of seminars, workshops, and learning!

There were 25,000 coaches in Nashville for Summit, so all our events were held in the Music City Center, Bridgestone Arena, and Nissan Stadium ... aka all the huge convention centers and sports arenas.

We heard from keynote speakers, social media experts, and online business experts like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chalene Johnson, Shaun T, our CEO Carl Daikeler, and other top coaches in the organization including my own mentor Chelsea!

I was so proud to see her up on stage in front of 3,000 coaches!

One of the best parts about Beachbody is that it's a culture of duplication and service, which means everyone wants to help everyone else succeed. Top coaches don't keep secrets and corporate provides us with a ridiculously high level of business training, tools, and resources.

That's honestly why I was brave enough to quit my old job and partner with Beachbody as a full time coach two years ago -- the business is a system and you're provided with literally EVERYTHING you need to create a six figure business, you just have to put in the work and effort. There's pretty much zero risk involved, as long as you're consistent and show up for yourself and your business every single day.

And those were my main takeaways from all the workshops: hard work and patience will pay off. Not everyone is willing to stick it out and trust in the bigger picture, so they give up on themselves too early, but if you're willing to commit even just 3-4 years of your life to work on creating something really great, you literally CAN'T fail. Good things take time, and that's ok!

If you're a fellow coach or entrepreneur and want to see what we learned, you can find my full notes from the business workshops and seminars here!

And of course between all the workshops and learning there was plenty of going out and celebrating too!

Nashville is such a fun city. Our favorite spot to hangout was ACME, a four story bar and restaurant with a rooftop overlooking Broadway, the river, and the stadium!

What I love most about my team is that we're just regular down to earth, fun loving women who share big dreams.

We value authenticity, creativity, community, service, leadership, and personal development...but also love to be silly and let loose with a few glasses of wine or grapefruit sodas. Because that's what life is all about. Work hard, play hard!

Surround yourself with positive, growth-minded people who share your vision and values.

Commit to learning, growing, and constantly evolving into your best self.

It's up to YOU to create the life, job, and opportunities you want, so be ready to do the work, have infinite patience, and trust the process even if you don't see immediate results. It takes time and effort to create something built to last, and that's ok. We'll encourage, empower each other, and have as much fun as possible along the way!

If you're curious about joining our team or learning more about my new coach mentorships, reach out and shoot me an email! I love talking about what I do and I'm always looking to partner up with women who are independent, driven, ambitious, big-hearted, and want to serve others and be part of something bigger.

We were all born to fly :)

xo Anna