Hawaii: Day 11 (12 June 2009)

After a late night playing games I figured we would sleep late, have a nice breakfast, take our time getting packed and just have a leisurely morning... It wasn't to be... well, at least not the sleep late part of it. We got new upstairs neighbors, they had several young kids who were probably used to the main land time and were up before the sun running back and forth up there pushing chairs and making all kinds of noise. It was a good thing this was our last morning! So, we were up at 6:00 am also and figured we had might as well see our last sun rise from the beach house. I would miss this view! We picked an incredible place to stay.  I wouldn't have changed a thing! Our plane to the Big Island didn't leave until noonish so we spent the rest of the morning with Amy and Juan playing Catch Phrase and relaxing. We got to the airport and gate just as we thought the plane would have been boarding. The sign said it was boarding but there wasn't even an attendant at the gate. We sat and waited watching the sign change from boarding to final call to departed before they finally changed it to delayed. I guess we needed to remember where we were... Hawaii, relax, no rush, the plane will get here when it gets here. Anyway, we left about 45 minutes late and made it to the Big Island, upgraded the rental to a 4x4 and made it to our hotel with little trouble.

We had a pretty nice view from our hotel, the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. It was a bit older but the rooms were nice and it was well maintained. The little island we could see from our balcony was call Coconut Island. There was a nice park and some fun places to swim.

Before we had to pick up Dad that evening we had time to have lunch at L&L BBQ and stop by a waterfall not far from the road called Wailuku Falls. The trail wound through a pretty dense jungle and Mom decided to go back after a little ways in.

It was a very pretty waterfall and we had fun hiking together through the jungle.

It was nice to be alone, just the two of us. We hadn't done much by ourselves. It was romantic. Right as we were getting back to the car it started to rain a bit but that was alright because it was about time to go get Dad from the airport. At least that is what we thought. We should have learned from our experience at the airport earlier that day... Dad was supposed to come in about 8:30 but by the time his flight actually arrived it closer to 9:30. We gathered him and his luggage up and went back to the hotel for a late dinner and got to bed.

Hawaii: Day 10 (11 June 2009)

Today was our last full day on Oahu. Earlier in the week I made a deal with Amy that if she would take us up the Stairway to Heaven I would take her out to breakfast... It was a pretty good deal all around! Amy took us to a tiny pancake restaurant that's famous for their pancakes and Macadamia Nut syrup. At first sight I thought this had better be good! The line was out the door and down the street. But "Amy said" it would be worth it so we got in line. This is how it works... you go up to the entrance and get your name on the list then you wait in line for about 30 to 45 minutes looking at the menu and deciding what you want to order. After what seems like forever (you can smell the delicious aromas wafting through the door) a server comes out to get your order and then... you wait for another hour or so when they call your name and you finally get to go inside to wait even longer for your food to come. So by this time they could be serving yesterdays slop and it would taste divine because your stomach thought your throat had been cut.
Anyway, the food came and the portions were generous and it tasted wonderful!
It was worth the wait and now we wish we could make that mac nut syrup! I would wait in line for hours to have it... wait I did... So, with breakfast taking the whole of the morning of our last full day we decided to get into the ocean one last time. We went snorkeling at Shark's Cove. It was pretty crowded but there were lots of fish and I even got to follow a little turtle around for a bit.

Throughout most of our vacation Amy spent lot of time with us and poor Juan always had to either work or go to school so we decided to spend our last evening at their house eating dinner and playing games. I bet Juan was glad to see us go so he could have his new wife back, I can understand that. I remember what it was like to be a newly-wed!

Hawaii: Day 9 (10 June 2009)

As I look through the last few days of our "Hawaii Holiday" I realize that though we still had some really neat experiences ahead of us I think we reached the climax on day 8. Jordan and Dad left us in the morning of day 9. We dropped them off at the airport first thing in the morning and they flew off to the island of Kauai for a few days of hiking. Jordan, you should tell us about your adventures there!
As for the rest of us, Anne & the kids, mom, Amy, Laura and I visited the USS Arizona Memorial.
Though I have visited the memorial a few time before the spirit I feel there is strong. So many people gave their lives fighting for freedom in this harbor. What was even more amazing was the high number of Japanese visitors to the memorial and the feeling of friendship and forgiveness felt by all.
It gives me hope to know that nations that have fought each other so ruthlessly can overcome their animosity and hatred toward one another and become friends and brothers in the end.
Following our visit to Pearl Harbor we made our way to the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

It was a hot day. Amy, Anne and the kids went through the Pineapple Garden Maze, the biggest maze in the world. Mom, Laura and I were lazy and just walked around the store and had the best pineapple ice cream and juice ever! It was soooo good!
Today was also the day that Anne, Sera, and Evan had to leave us and go home :(
The kids wanted to get into the ocean again before they had to leave so we headed for Haleiwa and the beach.

They loved to play in the sand. They would dig holes, trenches and walls to keep the water out. Everytime the waves would come up and knock them over they would frantically re-build before the next big wave came.

We were also visited by a few turtles. This guy was pretty big though not quite as big as he looks in this picture. Isn't he cute!?

How's this for a nice little place right on the beach?

Again the sunset was beautiful.

What a nice day! We had our last dinner with Anne and the kids at a nice little Thai place there in town. I love Thai food. After dinner Anne left with the kids for the airport and we were all sad to see them go. When Mom, Laura, and I got back to the beach house it was just way too quiet! Our time on Oahu was coming to an end. Time goes by way to fast!

Hawaii: Day 8 (09 June 2009)

Day 8 had to be my favorite day of all! It was incredible, especially the parts that we hadn't planned. We started out by going with Amy and Juan to a little secluded beach accessible only by boat. We took a little ferry across a small fresh water lake. It was a beautiful day and the view was amazing.
Jordan settled in with no problems and made himself right at home.

They had kayaks for us to cruise around in and of course I choose the one that had a leak! If you look at me on the bottom left my butt is riding pretty low compared to everyone else. It was fun just same even with a wet rear end. Following the beach and a few games of volleyball we headed for our next stop...
A bus tour of Kualoa Ranch. Amy works as a receptionist there. It is a beautiful ranch known for the many movies that have been filmed there; parts of Godzilla, Pearl Harbor, George of the Jungle, and many others. It is always nice to know a "local" with connections, our tour was free!

This is a view of the valley in the ranch.

Prime Real Estate.

Location, location, location!
Another big show that has been filmed here is the TV series "Lost".
Jordan looks a bit too proud to admit it but that sign fits him pretty well! Just kidding Jordan, we'd all be lost without you! Remember in "Jurassic Park" when everyone was running from that herd of chicken looking dinosaurs? There's the log they hid behind.

Great view! Not a bad place to work for the little wife of a poor college student.After the Movie Set Tour at Kualoa the real fun and excitement began!
Jordan, Amy, Anne, Laura, and I decided to go for a hike. I don't remember the name of the place we planned to hike but along the way we started talking about the Haiku Stairs better known as the Stairway to Heaven. For those of you that don't know what the Stairs are here is a brief history.
Built in 1942 for a Navy antenna site, 3,992 wooden steps were built right along the ridge of the mountain. In 1957 they were replace with metal steps and soon after the antenna site was abandoned and later the trail was opened to the public. In 1997 the Stairway was closed due to vandalism and costs to maintain the safety of the trail. The state spent nearly a million dollars to repair and upgrade the stairs and trail but it has yet to be opened to the public again. So, yes, it was technically off limits... forbidden... and yes, maybe even a bit illegal to climb the Stairs... With that being said...
We soon found ourselves walking or sneaking our way to the trail head.
Of all present Laura and Anne were the most nervous and to put it bluntly scared! Of course it didn't help that Amy was always shushing us and creeping around corners and looking as if we were trying to rob a bank or something. I'm sure if I had asked Laura wouldn't have thought twice about turning around and getting out of there. Anne on the other hand started having guilty feelings for all the times she made Laura do bad things when they were young, she said "now I know how you must have felt".

Anyway, after 30 minutes or so of sneaking through the jungles, walking the back roads, and climbing under fences and even being spotted by what looked like construction workers we soon found the trail and finally relaxed a bit. Then we looked up the trail... yikes!
Up, up, up the Stairs we went! Have you ever got on a stair stepper and just started climbing stairs? Well, this is nothing like that at all! The stairs are all at different angles, they're narrow, and in lots of places it's more like climbing a ladder than stepping stairs!
It wasn't long before I was huffing and puffing with my calf's and butt on fire. I couldn't stop thinking about those poor privates that had to build this amazing climb all those years ago. It's hard to imagine how they did it.

As we quickly rose out of the trees and found ourselves high above the ground the view was awe inspiring.

Looking back at the way we came was a bit dizzying. Just one false step could send you tumbling thousands of feet to your death! On the plus side we found the stairs to be in great shape and very sturdy. I never felt in much danger of falling, Laura was doing alright too!
Though the trail was long, steep and hard we couldn't help but be amazed by the views that opened up to us at every step.As we made our way to the top the clouds started coming in and as the name implies, we were climbing into the heavens.
It wasn't long before the top was obscured and we were walking through the clouds.

We finally made it to the top, it took a couple of hours but we had made it and it was totally worth the burning buns! At the top we found the old antenna station.

uhh... no comment...

The way down was the same as the way up but it sure was easier going! Anne lead the way and took off like a rabbit... she had to pee. There wasn't a lot of private space to relieve ones self after all.
What a view! Jordan couldn't get enough of the sights either.

That hike was incredible. It was something that I will never forget, none of us will ever forget. By the time we made it down and got back to the car it was pretty dark. As we all climbed in, dirty, tired, and hungry we were relived that the "caper" went off without a hitch. It was a day to remember and we would all sleep good tonight!

Hawaii: Day 7 (08 June 2009)

We were lazy in the morning on day 7. Until now we had just about every minute planned out and now that we really didn't have anything going on we all just kind of sat around lazing. About 10 Anne decided (well, the kids had more to do with it than Anne) she would take the kids to go to the beach and do some more boogie boarding. This was always Sera and Evan's favorite thing to do. It is a blast after all.
It was a very beautiful day (as were most of our days there) so the rest of us took a little drive out to Laie Point.

Laie Point is a little peninsula that juts out into the ocean. The waves were crashing and the sun was shining. It was a perfect day to be outside. And look, we even got Laura to go out on a limb and stand on the ledge.
This is also the infamous place where Amy had her run-in with the ocean and a whole bunch of very sharp rocks, Poor girl! I could hardly believe she was still alive after seeing where she was standing and how sharp the rocks were. Can you say guardian angles!? Following our trip to the point we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
This is an amazing place. There are several "Islands" throughout the park, one for each of the major Polynesian cultures. Amy has some friends that work there and one got us in for half price. It normally costs about $80 a person so the discount was quite nice.
The grounds are beautiful and well taken care of. So many flowers and trees. This tree for instance is pretty crazy... if you look carefully you can see where it starts on the right side of the water, it goes up and over makes a big bend and comes back on it's self.

I think every ones favorite Island to visit is Samoa. Kap (his real name is way too long and complicated to put here) is very entertaining as he tells us about the Samoan culture. He showed how they made fire, shucked coconuts and made coconut milk.
They also showed us how they climb palm trees and how to show off 50 feet above the ground.

We all got Tattoos in Fiji, look at the guns on Anne! Evans pretty buff too. ;) There was so much to see and do that we never had time to see it all.

Another favorite is the Canoe Pageant, dancers from each Island perform native dances on the canoes as they go down the river.
I was wrong before, every ones mostest favoritest thing was the Luau! All you can eat Hawaiian food. We all were calmly waiting our turn to get our food and it was well worth the wait! Yummy.
And as always... A beautiful sunset to end the day!