Friday, April 22, 2011

The Hawaii Novel

We had a wonderful time in Hawaii. Here is an overly detailed rundown of some, ok most all, of the fun things we did while there. If you are not into reading right now feel free to skip ahead and just look at the pictures. However, the pictures are not in chronological order due to the fact that we were using two cameras that happen to have ended up on the same image numbers. This recount of our adventure is more for us to remember all the details when we are old, than anything else, but we thought others might find it interesting.

Wednesday I went to school in the morning to teach my 5th graders. The when I got home I double checked our bags for the zillionth time and hopped in the truck to go out to the airport. Somewhere along the way we miscalculated when we would need to leave. Now, don’t worry we didn’t miss our flight, quite the opposite really. We checked our bag, got through security, found our gate and I looked at my watch to see that we had two hours and ten minutes until our flight... What?!? We are still not exactly sure how we ended up so far ahead of necessary, but I suppose it was better than the opposite situation. All the free time gave us a chance to play games on my iPod.

Once it was finally time to board our flight, the experience was as expected, long and slightly cramped. We landed just after dark and took a shuttle to our hotel. We wanted to get out and stretch our legs some so we took the opportunity to do the first of many wanderings along the beach shops. Our jaunt out required a very important stop at Yogurt Land for some pineapple bliss in a cup. We were fading fast despite all the energy around us because it felt three hours later due to the time change, so then it was back to our hotel to crash.

Thursday morning we were up early (again because of the time change) to go to Pearl Harbor and the battleship Missouri. We were very impressed by the battleship because it was so big and had a wealth of history to go with it. The information our tour guide gave us about the cannon like guns that stocked the ship was astounding. Each of the nine deck guns supports a 16 inch barrel and can deliver a 2000 pound shell 23 miles. Every 30 seconds the nine rounds from the ship can level an area the size of a football field. Since we did the battleship first, then went to the sunken Arizona we had a much clearer picture of some of the boat components that were laying in the murky water below us in Pearl Harbor.

After leaving Pearl Harbor we stopped at the grocery store to stock up our little kitchenette with a few basic necessities like diet coke, bananas, bread, milk and peanut butter. It was very nice to have our own little fridge, microwave and toaster. I am sure it saved us a good deal of money since we didn’t “have to” eat out every time we were hungry. Once we filled our fridge we put on our swim stuff and walked to the beach just a block and a half away. The next hour or so we soaked up the sun (and plenty of sand too) before going back to our room to get cleaned up for dinner. We ate at Chili’s then walked around the international marketplace.
We kept our busy pace Friday by getting up and out the door to the Dole plantation. I was worried about the weather since it poured rain the whole time we were riding the bus there. I should clarify, this was not your typical little Hawaiian mist; we are talking windshield wipers full blast and puddle sized raindrops kind of rain. As we made the short walk from the bus stop to the main entrance I was lamenting the fact I had forgotten to bring my rain jacket or any other manor of sleeves, since the weather near our hotel had been lovely. I decided I didn’t want to be cold in the rain the rest of the day so I went about picking out a lightweight sweatshirt. I found a really cute green one and had no sooner finished paying and exited the gift shop when the sun burst back through the clouds. The rest of the day was beyond warm and I had absolutely no need of my cute new sweatshirt. Did I appreciate the weather’s sense of irony? No. But did I tolerate it due to the fact it helped me gain an otherwise completely unnecessary new sweatshirt? Yes! Now, on with the plantation tour. We found the train which took us around the farm a bit smaller that we had expected but equally fun. It was really interesting to hear how pineapples are farmed and see the variety of colors, sizes and shapes they come in. I never knew pineapples came in a pink variety too. After the train we wandered through the various garden areas, got our fill of informational signs, bought a yummy Dole whip (pineapple soft serve ice cream) and went catch our bus to the North shore.

The North shore had very quaint little shops but neither of us felt like spending time inside now that the sun had come out again. So we went to Waimea Valley botanical gardens for a little hike. The gardens and the unusual plants were gorgeous! The highlight of our walk was seeing a waterfall at the end of the trail. I was surprised to see people swimming in the pool below the falls. There were lifeguards and everything. The lowlight of the trek was when I fell and seriously scraped up my knees. Apparently I am not capable of looking up at a tree, walking down a hill, stepping on a small stick, and keeping myself upright all at the same time. Luckily my awkward blunder and subsequent childlike whining was only witnessed by about 3 people (one of which was Dusty) and the previously mentioned lifeguards had band aids! Despite having a very five year old like spill it was a fun hike.

It was still mid afternoon and fairly sunny as we walked down the road and found ourselves a nice spot to watch the big waves roll in at Waimea Bay. To keep in form with the “acting like a five year old” theme I had established with my fall, Dusty had a good time playing in the sand, making a giant mound and trying to protect it as the waves washed it away. I asked for a castle and instead he makes me a pile, stating he didn’t have the appropriate tools, aka a bucket, to make castle. Before too long it got a little overcast so we got on our bus and enjoyed a view down the windward side of the island. We stopped at Ala Moana shopping center and looked at a few stores before buying dinner and Cinnabons to take back to our hotel.

Diamond Head volcano crater was first on our hit list for Saturday morning. Although the climb is just under a mile each way, it is plenty strenuous. There is a 560 foot elevation gain from the base and the trail is jagged stone and dirt mixed with tunnels and stairs, with the last tenth of a mile up being all stairs. The view from the top of the old military bunker is well worth the hike. To be honest, the way down was worse than the way up since my legs were a bit shaky from the stairs and I was afraid I would trip again.

From Diamond Head we went to Sea Life Park. The dolphins were amazing to watch. We could have paid to swim with the dolphins and although it looked fun it was more expensive than we were willing to pay. We were more than content watching their show. I was so impressed with the show they put on. They could do so many tricks and stunts. I was also perplexed by the resident Wholphin. Yes, that is a whale crossed with a dolphin. It is the only one known of in the world. It was neat to see penguins, sea lions, monk seals, sharks, rays and tropical fish. I also liked the park because I got to feed sea turtles. What can I say; I am a sucker for animals.

We rode the bus back home but the day wasn’t over yet. That night we went to a luau! I just can’t believe the way that those hula girls can shake it! We both really enjoyed the dinner. It was neat to see them take the roast pig out of the pit in the ground and nobody ever complains about an all you can eat buffet.

Sunday morning we took the bus to Haunama Bay to swim with the fishes. I had a defective snorkel mask or possibly a defective forehead. It gave me all sorts of trouble by putting pressure right in between my eyebrows when it was “suctioned on.” I seriously thought I was going to have a bruise. When the mask wasn’t on super tight causing the pressure, it had a very slow leak. Just a few drops of ocean at a time would sneak their way in but eventually those little drops would start to gang up on my eyes and then I would have to stop and let them all out. Thus, I would have to put my mask on really tight again. Most of the time it worked well enough to get by and allowed me to see lots of awesome creatures. Some of the notable animals we saw were multi colored sea urchins, an angel fish bigger than any I have ever seen in a pet shop, the Hawaiian state fish with a name longer than this blog (but only by a little), a puffer fish as big as my parents dog Bandit but without legs, a striped eel that made me really freak out as it slithered by, and a sea turtle but unfortunately we were no longer in the water when we spotted him. Best of all we discovered Dusty can almost float in salt water.

We were so worn out from swimming all morning we HAD to go and take nap before dinner. I think Dusty spent most of the nap watching Deadliest Catch but how would I know, I was lights out. When I woke up I was refreshed but starving. We got dressed up and went to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. There was a wait to get seated and that made me hungry-grumpy. We couldn’t kick the hungry part of that but while we were waiting we got rid of the grumpy with a little retail therapy. Dusty informed me that his dad had slipped him some money before we left Spokane and told him to surprise me with something on our trip. And Dusty did just that when we found a beautiful but slightly pricey hair barrette I really liked. Soon we got called to be seated for dinner and man, did it hit the spot!

Sleeping in was our only plan for Monday. We had toyed with the idea of hopping to another island for a day but since our pace for the trip had been quite brisk we decided to just relax and enjoy the area near our hotel. We spent most of our time Monday sitting on the beach, lunching on leftovers in our room and looking through more shops and it made for a perfect day. Later in the afternoon we walked to the Hilton Hawaiian village and had fun taking pictures by the lagoon. After that we walked to the beach to take a few pictures at sunset. While we were walking on the docks in the marina we saw weird looking ripples in the water. Upon closer inspection we could see that there were jelly fish shuffling around beneath the surface of the water. Tons of them! It made me very glad I didn’t act out my plan to sit down and dip my toes in off the edge of the dock. After our photo session we had dinner at Red Lobster and then walked home along the beach.

We had so enjoyed the day of relaxing, that Tuesday we basically had a repeat of Monday with just a little less sleeping in. We tried to go to the restaurant in our hotel lobby for breakfast and were most surprised to see the doors closed and menus all taken down. I asked the gal at the front desk if it was going to be open later that day and she said in an excessively cheerful voice “No they are closed. Never to be open again!” Her chipper tone made me curious about the quality of the restaurant. Apparently, the hotel remodel was not going to include it in their new design. We turned our misfortune into joy after eating at Lulu’s on the beach walk instead. It is a really good thing we hadn’t found Lulu’s sooner or we would have had to eat there every day. The second story -bar style seating faced the ocean for a beautiful morning view. Additionally we had a front row seat to watch workers scale the palm trees for their regular trimming. It may sound annoying but it was actually really cool to watch the guys shimmy up the tree trunk, no ladders, and just start chopping older palm fronds and heavy coconuts out of the tree tops.

Our afternoon consisted of more time at the beach and one last walk through the international market place for all of our must haves souvenirs. Then we spent some time sorting and packing up in our room. I wondered if we would be able to fit it all in to take back home. It’s a good thing for me that Dusty is a superb packer and made it all fit with room to spare. So what did I want to do? Well fill it up of course! I kept myself in check though, adding a few last minute items like a calendar and photo album. For dinner we walked to Cheeseburger in Paradise. It was one of the biggest cheeseburgers I have ever eaten and we found a funny t-shirt to take home to my dad that said “Shut-up and eat your burger!” on the back. I also required one last stop at Yogurt Land; (I spared you the knowledge of how many other times we stopped in during our trip) I truly love pineapple yogurt!

Wednesday was our day to fly home. We had such a great time and nearly perfect weather, it made me want to stay forever. I was so sad that our vacation was over. I teased Dusty that I was going to let him fly home alone and I would just stay awhile. As I was joking about that we watched the news and heard a storm was coming that would be bringing heavy to torrential rain and flash floods. If it was going to be rainy I figured I might as well be back in Spokane with Dusty and the Moose pup. From there our trip home went well including our flight and when we landed back in Spokane we were not greeted with any rain at all! Instead we had hail and snow! Welcome home.

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