Monday, March 17, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Diamond Head Crater Hike

Since Steve got to go on a kid-free adventure the day before, it was now my turn!  And on this day we decided to make the hike up to the top of Diamond Head Crater.  Once again, this wasn't a trip for little legs.  The hike is only 0.8 miles up from the trailhead but it's pretty steep, gaining 560 feet as it ascends from the crater floor. The ascent goes from switchbacks up steep stairs and through a 225-foot tunnel. 

I followed Dave all the way up.  I figured since he had a heart attack just a few months back, he'd probably go about my pace (tee hee).  But everyone made it... including my mom who has endured a double hip replacement and just finished chemo and radiation.  She's such an inspiration!

At the summit, you see bunkers and a huge navigational lighthouse built in 1917. The postcard view of the shoreline from Koko Head to Wai'anae is absolutely amazing and then down the other side you get a great view of the crater itself.

And of course, once we made it back to the bottom we had to take the requisite photos in front of the sign!

It was a great little hike and I would recommend it to anyone that goes to Oahu.  The view alone is definitely worth it.  And don't worry... while I was hiking, the kids had a fabulous time with Daddy at the beach.  Daddy even buried them and gave them mermaid tails. He's the best Daddy ever!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Pearl Harbor and the Aquarium

On Sunday, Steve and I split up.  The "men" (a.k.a - Steve, Todd, Dave and Alex) wanted to go to Pearl Harbor and although I knew it would be interesting, I couldn't imagine that it would capture the attention of our children. So he went with the boys and Michelle and I took the kiddos to the Waikiki Aquarium.  The boys visited the museum, saw a moving video about December 7th, 1941, saw the Arizona Memorial, and took an extended tour of the battleship USS Missouri.  This was the battleship where Japan signed the surrender documents to end World War II.  The highlight for Steve was definitely the battleship tour... a vessel that had been in service for over 50 years!  It was amazing to see the spot where the documents were signed.

While they were soaking up some history, Michelle and I took the kiddos to the Waikiki Aquarium.  We had intended to take the bus there, but the routes were all messed up because of street closures for filming an episode of Hawaii-5-0.  So, since it was only about 1.5 miles away, we decided to walk.  The kids did amazingly well, although I pretty much was carrying one of the twins the entire way there.

The aquarium itself was small, affordable and informational... perfect for my kids.  There were several highlights including the sea turtles, jellyfish, giant clams and stingrays.  They also had a pair of Hawaiian monk seals and the kids enjoyed watching them being fed and learning all about this endangered animal.

We chose to walk back to our condo and hit up a restaurant on the way home.  It was one of the few times we ate out and the kids were more than happy to enjoy a burger!  I was impressed that their little legs did so well on our adventure and it was great having Michelle there with me to wrangle them! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Honolulu Swap Meet

On Saturday, we all grabbed a shuttle and went to the Honolulu Swap Meet at the Aloha Stadium.  It is Hawaii's largest open air flea market, with over 400 merchant booths.  You can buy everything from kitschy imported junk to handmade treasures to local food to souvenir T-shirts.  It's also one of the places you can haggle over the price... which is something I LOVE to do (and Steve HATES to do).  We were able to pick up mementos for everyone on our "list" and I got a couple of beautiful beaded necklaces for myself.  The kids also got to spend their money and enjoy a Hawaiian shaved ice (read: glorified snow cone), which was something they just HAD to try.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hawaii Trip: More beaches and Hanauma Bay

The next two days were spent enjoying the beaches.  We hit up Waikiki Beach on Thursday since it is close by and the kids were exhausted from the long day at the Polynesian Cultural Center the day before.  As you can tell from the photo below, Paige found a cozy spot under the beach umbrella to catch up on her sleep and was totally asleep for a good hour!

Then on Friday, we hopped on a shuttle to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for a morning of snorkeling.  This was one of the highlights for me, and it took everything in my power not to abandon Steve with the kids for the entire time so I could enjoy the fish!  Molly did a great job snorkeling, but she was SO scared that she would kill the coral if she touched it that she was fearful of getting too close to the reef.  Paige did a great job using the mask and got to see quite a few fish, but Garrett adamantly refused to put his face in the water and was much happier on land playing in the sand.  So Steve ended up just putting him on his shoulders so he could see the fish by looking down on them.  And Paige tired out quickly and enjoyed one more nap on the beach!  But all in all we got to see an AMAZING diversity of fish, including yellowfin surgeonfish, Achilles tang, convict tang, blueline snapper, threadfin butterflyfish, stareye parrotfish, Christmas wrasse, sea cucumber, reef triggerfish, ornate butterfly fish, spotted boxfish, blenny, and orangespine unicornfish.  It was one of the trip highlights!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hawaii Trip: The Polynesian Cultural Center...

After our tour around Oahu, we were shuttled to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  When we got there, we were just in time to grab a spot and watch the Rainbows of Paradise Canoe Pageant.  Each Polynesian group (Hawaiians, Samoans, Fijians, etc.) came out on a canoe and did their traditional dancing. It was such a beautiful show, and even the oarsmen were impressive with how they maneuvered those large rafts with nothing but a pole.  The ladies from Tahiti were my favorite, because they can move their hips faster than you'd ever think possible.

Next we walked around to the various regions, where performers showed off some of their skills... everything from making fire to climbing coconut palms to weaving to dancing and singing to drumming.  The chief from the region of Somoa was comedic and entertaining, showing us how to husk a coconut and make fire by rubbing sticks together.  Molly and Garrett just HAD to have thier photos taken with him afterwards.  Paige on the other hand was a little scared of him.

Of course the day was made that much better by having family to hang out with.

Then we went to the luau.  The meal was fabulous and not only included the traditional luau pig, but a variety of traditional items such a poi, chicken, poke (marinated ahi tuna), and taro rolls/buns that take on the purple color of the taro root!  Poi is nothing to write home about but the poke is completely awesome!

After the meal they had a small show and at one point had everyone with a March birthday come up on stage.  This happened to include my sister and my dad.  They were such good sports and the host was particularly impressed with how well Trish moved her hips.

We were really impressed with the luau staff, who were extremely friendly, helpful and professional.  Many of them were College students at BYU Hawaii, and I loved how they engaged our kids!  I was also particularly impressed with how organized the buffet was and how quickly they were able to get such a large group of people fed.

The highlight of the evening, was definitely the show at night called Ha: Breath of Life.  It was a well-produced show of all the cultural dances interwoven with a story about a young man growing up.  They don't allow you to take any photos or video during the production, but I found a "trailer" for the show on YouTube and it gives you a glimpse of what the production was like! Amazing!

Hawaii Trip: Circle Island Tour...

On our third day, we went on a tour around Oahu in the morning before heading to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  It was a great way to get an overview of the island. Our little group of thirteen took up the entire back half of the bus which was fun.  Eric, our tour guide, was a wealth of information and seemed to have a story about every stop that included someone dying there.  By the end of the tour we also got a little too much information about his ex-wife and psycho girlfriend.

Some of the stops included Hanauma Bay, Makapu-u Lighthouse, Pali Lookout and the North Shore Beaches.  The weather was beautiful and the sites were amazing.  It truly is a little piece of paradise.

At one stop the kids got to see a water blow hole which was kind of fun.  And for the record... yes someone died there too (swept out to sea).

One of the spots I was really looking forward to was the Dole Plantation.  I mean, how often do you get to see how a pineapple grows?  And of course we had to indulge in a Dole Whip... yum yum yum.  For the record, it takes one full year for a pineapple fruit to grow!

At the Dole Plantation, they had a booth where you could pick an oyster and they would retrieve the pearl out of it for you.  This is one of the things Molly REALLY wanted to do while we were here so she couldn't wait to spend her money on that.

All of this happened by lunchtime!  After that we were off to the Polynesian Cultural Center.  But that deserves a post of it's own.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Waikiki Beach...

On our second day there, we HAD to hit the beach.  Waikiki Beach was about three blocks away from our condo.  That doesn't sound like very far, but when you factor in lunches, towels, and beach gear for five people... that's a lot of stuff to haul.  Luckily Steve bought some big back packs for he and I to use.  Now... add to that equation three tired kids and imagine us going home with our huge back packs AND each carrying a tired twin.  Needless to say, we got our workout.  But it was worth it.  It's a busy beach, but absolutely amazing.  There is beautiful clean, warm, crystal blue water with light sand.  You'll note in the photos below that even Aquaman was happy being back near the ocean.

Garrett spent most of his time being chased by waves and throwing sand in the water.  Molly hung out in the surf searching for rocks and shells.  And Paige spent most of her time with Daddy out where it was a little bit deeper.  Our beach time was made that much better when Trish's family joined us.  As you can tell from the pictures she took below we were just a LITTLE happy to be relaxing on a Hawaiian beach together.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Getting all settled in...

The first morning, even though Steve and I were awake by 5:00 a.m. (8:00 a.m. our time) the kids slept in to 6:00 which wasn't too bad with the time change. We got ready and met up with my family for breakfast.  It was so great to see everyone!  Afterwards we put together a shopping list so that we could get groceries for the next week.  The men all went to Costco, and the women all went to Food Pantry to get the things we didn't need in bulk.  As for me... I took the kids (my three and my niece and nephew) to the pool to burn off some energy.  After lunch, Steve and I took our kids for a walk around Waikiki to check out the sites.  Of course they HAD to go check out the beach despite the fact that we didn't have any beach stuff with us.  That didn't stop them!  And despite the presence of some grey clouds, the sun still shined for us!

Then we went back to Tricia's condo to help with dinner.  We saved a ton of money eating most of our meals in, and it was so enjoyable because we could chat and drink wine while cooking.  The BBQ's were just one floor below Tricia's condo, right by the pool and tennis courts.  So it made it easy for the kids to swim while the adults enjoyed our visit, our wine, and the sunset.

On the windy days we stayed inside and kids watched cartoons while we worked on dinner.  Dave even brought his travel guitar with him and serenaded us.  Molly was pretty much inseparable from her cousin Maya, who is five years older than her but loved teaching Molly about anything and everything.  Alex and Maya are such amazing kids and it was so wonderful to spend some concentrated time with them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hawaii Trip: Leaving on a jetplane...

These next few posts are going to be all about our trip to Oahu, Hawaii!  We booked this trip a year ago to celebrate my mom's anticipated recovery from breast cancer.  Her brother (my uncle Mike) died of colon cancer just before Mom's diagnosis and he left her a small sum of money.  She decided to use that money to take our entire family on vacation in his honor.  I know he would have been thrilled with her decision, as were the rest of us!

This trip was particularly special as it was our 10-year wedding anniversary, the first destination vacation we have had with our children (other than to see family), and the first time Garrett and Paige had ever been on a plane.  We were all SO excited.  Christie drove us to the airport and we hopped on our first plane to San Francisco.  The kids were vibrating with excitement.

The next leg of the flight was a little longer, so we kept them busy with a variety of activities like coloring books, toys and food.  The plane also had personal movie screens on the back of every chair, and the kids loved being able to pick their own movies and shows to watch. And when they found out they could watch Frozen on the plane they pretty much freaked out!

And a couple of people took the opportunity to have a nap.

We got to our condo in Waikiki about 8:00 p.m. Hawaii time (which was about 11:00 at night to us).  The kids were such troopers and we had virtually no meltdowns.