Hawaii! Part II

Wednesday, Day 1

We got up at 3:30 in the morning, got ready, woke the kids up at 4:15, and headed to the airport by 4:30/4:45. Last time we traveled to the Atlanta airport, we got stuck on the freeway from a major accident for an entire hour, so we decided to plan to arrive three hours early to our flight. Apparently, that’s what they recommend for the Atlanta airport now, but we didn’t know that back in the summer. Luckily, the drive went smoothly this time. We arrived without any hiccup and made it to the airport with plenty of time to get the kids some McDonalds breakfast, go to the bathroom, fill up our water bottles, and still get to our gate with ten minutes to spare. The ten hour and a half hour flight was LOOOONG, but because we gained time, we arrived in Honolulu around 3 PM. The major issues flying with kids was keeping my three year old from kicking the seat in front of him. I did my best. When they served food, he had his tray down so I didn’t see that he was now dancing on the seat in front of him, but don’t worry, the lady sitting there let me know. [Insert look of horror and then another five hours of me constantly telling Harvey to knock it off and moving things in front of his seat, pushing his feet down, etc.]. We learned our lesson and put him behind one of our own kids for the next flight, though Max wasn’t much better so we had to bump him to the back row as well. Anyway, we’ll get to the flight home later on. Despite three o’clock Honolulu time being 8 in Georgia, as soon as we arrived at our cottage on the beach, the kids got in the water, clothes and all. We ordered pizza, fed them and then every one went to bed after a very long and exhausting day of traveling.

I need to add, that as we drove towards our cottage I started wondering, “Where did I reserve for us to stay??” There were homeless people and their lived-in cars all along the road leading to our cottage. On the right was a military airport and on the left was homelessville. Technically it was “preserved wildlife refuge” and that probably isn’t too far off as there was a large peacock to cross the road right in front of me as I went to pick up the pizza. But, I think it was also a great place for homeless people to live off the land. There were quite a few signs that said, “High Theft Area, lock your cars!” so I was kind of paranoid the first few nights that some bum would still our towels we left out to dry, but they went untouched the whole time we stayed there. The little cottage area was gated… but all beaches are public beaches so they could’ve easily walked along the beach to get our place. Anyway, I started second guessing my decision to get this bungalow. I also thought it was on the military base that Ben lived on… it was on the opposite end of the island, but luckily from end to end is only an hour drive for the most part. I thought we’d get tired of driving every where because of our location, but the drive was so beautiful, that didn’t really bug me. Well, except for the longer days when the kids would fall asleep in the car and then we’d try and get Beverly to pee in the potty when she was half asleep. She is NOT a reasonable person in those conditions and doesn’t remember the fit she threw the next day about doing her business before bed. The airport noise didn’t bother me either. I never woke up from air traffic, but on the flip side it was cool to see all of the various aircrafts taking off.

Thursday, Day 2

The kids woke up at 2:30 AM and proceeded to jump from bed to bed like they had had a full night’s rest. They hadn’t. I went in there and told them it was still the middle of the night and they needed to go back to bed. They said ok, but didn’t listen. Andy went back in there and laid down the law and gave them all vitamins thinking they were melatonin gummies. They didn’t listen to his firm voice either. So finally I went back in there, gave them the real gummies, and told them to go back to sleep and for some reason third time was the charm and they went back to sleep. I however, was now wide awake. I began doing more research for our trip on where to go that day and searching for a nearby farmers market. I tried to go back to sleep and finally drifted off around 5 AM only to be woken up by the Columbia county sports director asking Andy if he’d coach baseball this season. I had dropped the ball and somehow missed the memo that baseball sign ups and come and gone until Maverick’s friend’s mom asked me if Mav was playing. I told her “OH! I need to sign him up! And she said, “Oh, registration ended a while ago. Maybe get him on the waitlist?” So the only way Mav would be able to play is if Andy said, sure Aaron, I’ll coach…. so here we go! Andy’s a good sport.

At the point there was no way I was going back to sleep (I’m more of a morning person, once I’m up, I’m full of energy). I got up, got the kids going on their school work and around 7 we went outside to watch the sunrise. This became a daily ritual: homework, sunrise, sand time.

Once we were finished with our work and what not, we did some grocery shopping at Walmart (not far from where we were staying) and this cute little farmers market. It was full of fresh fruit, veggies, and fish. I bought a fish I didn’t even know the name of, enough shrimp for our family, some mangoes, papaya, carrots, and cucumbers, and a spiky little bean we’d never tried before. It was a great learning experience for the kids. We watched them cut and descale the fish right in front of us. I taught them how to select good produce and the little tricks of finding ripe fruit (smell, touch, and sound in the case of watermelon). We went home to put away the food and headed to Ted’s bakery on the North shore for lunch. Quite a few people had recommended it and it did not disappoint. I kind of wish I had bough a bunch of their pies to bring back to the cottage for us to try later, but we weren’t going to be home any time soon and I didn’t want them to go bad. I got a crab and bacon sandwich which was delicious and the rest of the family got burgers. We headed to Waimea Falls after this where we lost one of our two life jackets (on the first day, no less [facepalm]). But the Falls were GORGEOUS. I highly recommend this hike for all ages. It is paved and about two miles round trip. It’s more like a walk up hill, but a hike because you’re on a mountain side. The views are breathtaking. It’s also a Botanical garden, so you get to see all of the diverse flora and vegetation. We got to see the really cool pine tree looking thing and its needles are similar to an elongated smooth pinecone rather than a needle, but from a distance, it looks like a well manicured pine tree. The water at the falls is very chilly, but so refreshing. You can get right up to the falls. They’re not the longest falls I’ve ever seen, but it was pretty! I think it’s the only one (that I know of) that you can swim next to, most of the falls don’t allow that or it’s just not possible.

After Waimea, we headed toward Kanehoe. Ben lives in that area on the Marine Base. We ate L&L Bbq and had the “famous” Chicken Katsu. It is Juliet’s favorite, so she treated everyone. I got the pulled pork and cabbage, Andy tried the Ramen, Maverick had their Masubi (spam on rice, wrapped in seaweed), Bev got Chicken Katsu and Max got the burger. Everything was delicious, though I did notice after a couple of days in Hawaii that the Hawaiian food at most of these restaurants did not include any sort of veggie. They seem to be like the southerners, where macaroni salad is one of their vegetables. So any time a restaurant offered a salad, I snagged the chance to get in my vegetables and my stomach was very grateful for that.

We did stop on the side of the road to snag a $10 coconut. We thought the price was ridiculous, but the Polynesian culture center sold them for 14. So I guess it was a steal.

Friday, Day 3

Grandma came back with us Thursday night so we could head to whale watching first thing Friday morning.

We didn’t end up seeing whales, but the excursion has a “guaranteed whale sighting” so we scheduled to go again the next day. Despite not seeing any whales, Beverly did see a Manta Ray and we saw a lot of flying fish. The kids had a blast riding along the bow and getting “kissed by the sea” as the crew described it.

After the boat tour, we headed towards Hanauma Bay. Apparently you need to do that in the morning and you need to have a reservation so we didn’t get to go, but because we went this way we were able to take the scenic route to Ben’s. It was a beautiful drive! We stopped along all the of the parking spots along the drive. We saw a seal, the blow hole, and other spectacular views.

Once we made it to Ben’s place we hit the base beach. There had been an earthquake earlier that day (may be why we didn’t see any whales– possibly they went deep to avoid getting beached from a potential tsunami). That combined with a bit of weather made the undertow very dangerous so our kids were only allowed to go in ankle deep. There were a lot of surfers despite that. I tried to boogie board, but the water was too rough even for me. After the beach, we met Ben and Wesley at McDonalds to get some very authentic Hawaiian food ;). It was similarly priced to the mainland and really the only place that I saw that commonality in prices. It was adequate and fed the kids. I did try a guava flavored pie from McDonald’s. It was good, but very sweet so I gave most of it to Ben because the kids weren’t a fan.

Saturday, Day 4

Once again, we headed to the boat. And… once again, we didn’t see any whales UNTIL the very last minute from a great distance, but even at that distance, it was amazing to see the massiveness of the fin smashing against the water. I nearly cried from excitement, but our time was up and we had to head back to shore.

After the boat tour we visited the ABC store and snagged some Hawaiian loot. Then we headed to Ko Olina Bay. It wasn’t my favorite beach we went to, but it was calmer waters and had nice facilities, so it was still good.

We headed home and searched for conveyor belt sushi. After three restaurants we decided to grab some Hawaiian food instead. I got the Loco Moco, Andy got Garlic shrimp, Max got their bbq chicken, the two littles shared a Chicken Katsu, and Maverick got their fried fish. Max’s tasted the best, but I really enjoyed the Loco Moco. Andy’s shrimp only came with like five shrimp so I gave him one of my patties, because one was plenty for me.

Sunday, Day 5

We had an easier morning. We got ready for church and made our way there around ten. We chose to go to Kea Azbill’s ward so I could see her. She said the move to Hawaii hasn’t been the easiest on her kids, but knowing them, they’re making the most of it. Brother Azbill was called into the high council that Sunday. I wasn’t surprised they were putting him to work already. The meeting was good. Definitely a military ward, not many natives, but the spirit was there like it is in every Sacrament meeting. The talks were uplifting and wholesome. We grabbed some lunch and some hot Malasadas (per Sara’s recommendation) on our way to the Japanese Buddhist temple. It was an incredible experience! The Malasadas were so delicious! Oh, you thought I was talking about the temple, yeah that was pretty cool too. We pulled up to the sound of a gong being rang repeatedly at a soothing tone and pace. We found out that it was tourists taking turns pulling the rope and letting the bell ring. It was pretty cool to do. You could feel the vibrations from the bell being that close. We walked through their temple and the kids enjoyed taking turns burning incense. Then we got some fish food for them to feed the coy, black swan, and little sparrow type birds. I think that was the kids’ favorite part. They had a fruit stand there so we got some coconut, dragon fruit smoothie, and coconut/mango tapioca. I ate the mango, Andy ate the coconut tapioca. The kids drank the smoothie and mom and dad got a small taste.

After doing all the things at the temple, we went to Wesley’s house for his birthday party. They had it at their community center. The adults watched the Super Bowl while the kids ran around crazy. The neighborhood pet Cockatiel, Pepe, flew in to say hi as the kids enjoyed their rock quarry. Wesley’s party was a big hit. They had good food, rock candy, Grandma’s dinosaur cookies, a quarry cake and matching cupcakes, and best of all the kids were pretty self-entertaining. It was really nice to spend time with Ben’s family.

After the party we headed to the coast to look at the tide pools. They were really neat! Though a little dangerous. We walked away with two bloody chins.

Well, after spending a few hours loading all these pictures and itinerary I think I’ll have to add another part II for the rest of the trip tomorrow. Stay tuned!

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