Hawaii Part II.B

Monday, Day 6

Andy and I (and probably the kids) had been going non-stop since we left Georgia so we decided to spend Monday morning at our own beach until we needed to head to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We ate lunch before we left and hit the road. The drive was much more pleasant than on previous days because the kids had expended so much energy before our day began. They were quietly talking and looking out the window. It was very pleasant and the morning was a nice reprieve, especially because we were going to be at the PCC until nearly 9 with the buffet dinner and show.

I loved the PCC! It was very different from how I remembered it, but little kid memories can be fickle. It had kind of a theme park feel to it with the scenery and what not, which felt odd to me given that it is owned by the church. I learned a lot of cool things about the Polynesian cultures. When preparing for the trip a lot of people told me I only needed a couple of hours for the PCC, but I feel they are wrong. The PCC doesn’t open until 12:30 and we got there very shortly after that. We spent every minute going from country to country, riding their canoe, and learning about Samoa, Hawaii, and Fiji and we didn’t even make it to Tonga, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Tahiti. The Tahitian hula is my favorite. I just find it so fast paced and kind of a play on the eyes as they don’t move their hips as much as they’re moving their ankles and knees, but it is fun to watch! Luckily I got my fill at their show at the end of the day. The kids got to stamp a sea turtle using hand made brushes and ink. We got to get temporary tattoos in Fiji and taste a savory banana in Samoa. Here‘s the recipe. Max wants me to try making it home, so wish me luck! According to all the reviews I read, the PCC has the best luau and show on the island. As I haven’t been to the others, I can’t attest to that, but I can tell you it was absolutely amazing. The fire dancing was out of this world. The singing and dancing was next level. The kids LOVED it even though they were all exhausted…. Harvey fell asleep. Not sure how as it was very loud, but he danced until he passed out.

Tuesday, Day 7

We had to get up somewhat bright and early Tuesday to get to our Kualoa Ranch excursion. Luckily it wasn’t a physically strenuous activity since we were pretty exhausted from the late night the night before, but it was a blast. We booked the Jurassic Adventure Tour. It is 2.5 hours on the back of a truck. It is kind of like a safari truck. Harvey was pretty tired, but enjoyed watching the scenery from the open back. It was very bumpy, but that just made it more fun for the kids. We saw five different spots where Jurassic Park and World were filmed and a few other movie locations that we passed by. It was fun to recognize the spots and also see the magic of cinema that must’ve been done post filming. I admit, I’m a little jealous that these celebrities get to work in paradise like that. It must’ve been a blast. Along the drive we saw a lot of native and non native vegetation including a wild pig and herds of cattle. The guide explained that Hawaii is named the “extinction capital of the world,” because it has the highest amount of native species that have gone extinct due to outside viruses coming in, nonnative plants taking over, invasive species, as well as human destruction. Kind of sad, but Hawaii is still so beautiful.

After Kualoa we grabbed some lunch at Seven Brothers. Apparently they’ve opened up three or so restaurants in Utah. I enjoyed my Ahi bowl and I think the rest of the clan enjoyed their burgers. I’ll have to ask Andy, but they looked like the best burgers they had eaten since we’d been on the island. We stopped by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ temple that was just around the corner. We didn’t do “the tour” but kind of did a self guided tour. It was really neat. I enjoyed showing the kids the replica they have on display and what each room was for. They also had a five minute video about the history of Laie which was super informational and inspiring. Their original meeting house was destroyed so in order to have a new one, back in that day, it was up to the members to find the means to pay for a building. They came up with a tourists’ version of the Hukilau. As this got going they ended of paying for a new building and having enough to fund the temple. Their sacrifice was great, but that building is absolutely gorgeous and stands as an icon of Oahu. The sister missionaries also told me a bit about their mission and I thought it sounded pretty unique. They spend part of their time at the PCC, part of it at the temple, and some of it proselyting in various areas of Oahu. They don’t get transferred to those different parts, but have shift type work at all three. I thought that was really unique. I wonder how they generally like it.

From there we headed to the much raved Turtle Bay Beach. Honestly, our beach was better, but I’m glad we went! They have decent snorkeling and the water is very clear. I think it is kind of a manmade lagoon so that the waves break off the shore and then it is pretty calm towards the resort. We saw a bunch of trigger fish, some sea urchins, a few puffer fish, Andy saw an eel, but we didn’t see any turtles while we were there.

We grabbed dinner at Surf N Salsa. It was pretty good but the kids went for burgers again. By the time we got home everyone was passed out except Andy and I, of course.

Wednesday, Day 8

We chose to have another calmer morning. We left early enough to hit the Navy exchange and get some conveyor belt sushi, finally. The kids wanted to try it out so bad and all of the places that used to have it didn’t use their conveyor belts anymore. Probably because of Covid. It was fun and delicious. We rushed off to Pearl Harbor which was five minutes away. It was an incredible experience and really humbling. As we stood over the waters of the USS Arizona, the idea of hundreds of men being trapped there with no warning of the Japanese air strike, showed me what a sacrifice it is for men to risk their lives for the freedom of their country and how sad it was that these men’s lives were cut short. There were probably twenty or so names that were added years later– those that survived the attack were allowed to be interred with their comrades. They would send scuba divers with the man’s ashes in a sealed urn and place it with those who had passed on. What I know about Andy and the feelings he has about his brothers in arms is that must’ve been a tender thing for these men who lived on. Whenever one of Andy’s teammates would die, it was like losing a family member. When you go through something so horrific together, it binds you together, in a way.

After touring all of their free museums, we headed back to the mall to look for a t-shirt for me. I just hadn’t found one that was cute and would work with garments. I finally found one! Andy found a nice new suitcase at the same store. We didn’t necessarily need it, but it did make the travel home less stressful for figuring out how to fit all of our fun little souvenirs. It is a really nice bag too and half off, even better. The kids all got free hats with our purchase, so they were happy too. We finished the mall visit off with coconut cookies and headed back to the cottage. We got some more swimming time in. I cooked while Andy took the kids out to swim (my choice). Then we ate on our patio. It was so relaxing with the sound of the waves and the colors of the sun slowly setting. Truly beautiful.

Thursday, Day 9

Thursday we didn’t have anything in particular planned. We had kind of planned on going to Diamond head, but by the time we realized you had to have reservations, the whole day was booked. So we decided to go drop off Ben’s beach toys he let us borrow since he wouldn’t be able to meet us for dinner like we had originally planned. It worked out though, because I was able to return a dress that didn’t quite fit and find a cool little coconut nativity to add to my nativity collection. Andy also got to eat at his favorite restaurant, L&L, one last time. I got the Mahimahi because I hadn’t had it yet and it didn’t disappoint. We headed back home and finished our trip off at the beach. While Andy took the car to get vacuumed, I sat on the beach and painted and watched the kids swim. Just as I thought about calling it a day, I saw a whale breach just off the coast! I watched it for about 15 minutes. There was a mama whale and a baby whale. The mama would slap with her fin and the little baby would copy her. It was the most incredible and adorable thing. Of course my kids had to bump my arm and climb all over me while I was watching, so the video footage isn’t great, but it was an amazing aloha send off. I had kind of prayed that morning and said, “Hey, Heavenly Father, I would really like to see a whale before I go! I know you command all things, could you send one my way?” I’ll just consider myself really loved that I got to see that right before we left. Seeing a whale in the wild has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. They are as majestic as I imagined. They’re so massive that even from a distance it is awe inspiring. For dinner, Andy barbecued that fish I picked up from the farmers market and I boiled the shrimp and pasta. It was a delicious last Hawaiian meal. We had been doing so much that trip, that it was nice that the last day wasn’t quite so busy and was more low key. I was able to pack up without much stress and enjoy our beach one last time.

Friday, Day 10

We went out to watch the sunrise, just like every other morning, but this morning it was very overcast, so it wasn’t until about 20 minutes after 7 that the real beauty of that morning began to shine. The sun peaked through the clouds and lit up the sea. The kids tried to run to the sand like they had every other morning, but I had to ban that since there wouldn’t be time to clean them up from the beach and I didn’t really feel like hauling wet and sandy clothes in our suitcase.

We spent the entire morning finishing packing, giving leftover food to homelessville across the street, cleaning our cottage per the agreement and heading to the airport. We thought we left with a ton of time, but we ended up getting to our gate with only about 20 minutes to spare. We planned to grab food at the airport before we took off, but when we looked at the only restaurant, Burger King, and saw that it was 21 dollars for a burger (not even a meal) we decided my homemade sandwiches and snacks would satiate us until we got to LA. The first flight was productive for me. I got some writing, reading, and relaxing in. It was about 5 hours. Then we had a four hour layover in LA. Unfortunately food is just as expensive at that airport. We did find a Jamba Juice and got 6 dollar breakfast sandwiches… which were smaller than my fist, but it was enough. I ended up bringing a lot of snacks home, so really, we were fine. We brushed our teeth, finished up some homework with the kids and boarded three hours later. The flight from LA to GA was supposed to be 4.5 hours, but the wind must’ve been in our favor because it was more like 3.5. Three and a half hours isn’t long enough for a night’s sleep, but the kids slept the whole flight. Andy and I tried, but it was impossible to get comfortable. We landed in ATL, grabbed our luggage and our car and headed home. Andy drove and I slept for about half the drive. After feeding our kids, Andy and I fell in our bed. We only slept for a couple of hours to try and get back on the right schedule. No one had a hard time going to bed last night and the kids have adjusted just fine to GA time. Despite being exhausted from jet lag and traveling in general, I would do it again (maybe in half a decade or so). We had so much fun and it was such a wonderful time to slow down (in some respects) and just enjoy each other.

One Comment

  1. A 21$ hamburger from Burger King 🤯

    Your beach looked so awesome!!! What a great adventure and time well spent with your cute little family.

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