Wednesday, April 25, 2018


In the voice of Homer Simpson - 


#1 - The Timothys

We could not have done Hawaii without the Timothys.  Boyd and Kandi graciously opened their home to us on the north shore of Oahu in Laie.  We were within 500 yards of both BYU-Hawaii and the LDS Hawaii temple.  It was awesome!  We walked to both locations almost daily.    

It was so great to see them!!  It was a mini SuperFriends reunion with many many many late nights talking after the kids fell asleep.  Seriously, Greg and I did NOT get enough sleep during our trip and it all came down to these late night visits.  It's just so rare we get this type of chance to visit with our friends.  Soaked up every minute we could.

Plus, I kind of fell in love with little Minnesota all over again.  How can you not love this girl??  

#2 - BYU Hawaii and the LDS Temple

We were on BYU Hawaii campus a lot, usually running around and playing.  I signed up James and Andrew for a campus tour through one of the students - good exposure for future options.  The guide was excellent - just what the boys needed.  James was especially keen on so many students carrying skateboards and long-boards.  

We also really loved the temple.  Every night we pulled in late to the Timothys, we'd drive down Hale Laa Blvd just so we could watch the temple with the lights.  We spent Sunday afternoon walking the grounds and discovering another cool, multi-vine tree in the back.  Wonderful feeling!

#3 - Food

The food in Hawaii is nothing to write home about, especially when you're traveling with 4 children.  For 7 days we lived on guava juice, muffins from Costco and cereal.  We also had multiple trips to McDonalds, the food court at Ala Moana and to Greg's absolute joy... Jollibee (fast food from the Philippines).

There were some definite highlights though.  I didn't realize until this trip that McDonalds in Hawaii (for whatever reason) still makes their pies FRIED.  Again, FRIED!!  This is no pathetic baked process they've sold out to elsewhere.  No.  Pure fried, fat goodness.  I ate at least 1x/day.  

There was also Leonard's malasadas, fried mango/peach pies from Jollibees, Matsumoto's shaved ice, and my personal favorite that I've been craving for 13 long years - Ted's Bakery Pies on the north shore.  These pies are incredible!  I would take home dozens if I could.   

Also, I'm fairly positive I gained 5 pounds.  

#4 - Beaches

The north shore was hit with clouds and rain during our stay, so our search for beaches took us to the south and western parts of Oahu.  Turned out to be a good thing because Greg and I discovered beaches we never knew existed and these were absolute gems.     

Our top favorite - Ko Olina.  No contest.  We ambled back and forth between Lagoon #4 and #3.  The background scenery was majestic and the waves calm for playful swim, but enough current to keep it interesting for snorkeling along the rocks.     

We discovered the Top Ramen did NOT work, but we still saw lots of fish.  Poor Bubbs got a bad sunburn on his back.  But thankfully no ER visits or cuts from coral. 

#5 - Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC)

The PCC was Bubbs' favorite part of the trip.  He keeps talking about it - even though we've been back for weeks.  But we all loved it!  Samoa with the tree of life coconuts "drink this and you'll look like me" and Tonga with their drums were our favorites.  

The ticket price included a huge buffet dinner and I was spellbound by the dining area.  Massive decorated doors and huge murals inside.  The evening performance is a new one since we last visited - called the Breath of Life.  And it was actually really good!  Lots of action and enough sentiment to keep even mom interested.  Even skeptical Andrew was awed by the fire dancing.        

Completely, 100% worth it.  

#6 - Pearl Harbor

Not a lot to say on this one except Pearl Harbor was 1 of 2 obligations we felt compelled to do during our trip (the PCC was the other one).  We had to wake up at 5 am on the north shore in order to make the 1hr drive to Pearl Harbor by 6:30 to wait in line for tickets.  I think the whole experience meant the most to James who had just finished a documentary on the attack in addition to a massive paper on John Holland and submarines.    

After Pearl Harbor and the PCC, our daily activities fell into a natural rhythm that was surprisingly very satisfying.  In the morning, we'd drive to a selected beach from our faithful, Oahu Revealed guidebook, and on the way back we'd stop at all the recommended spots around that area.  It wasn't very scheduled and we definitely missed some things.  But it kept us at an easy, relaxed pace, which in the end was nice.     

#7 - Honolulu, Waikiki and the Punch Bowl

The Punch Bowl wasn't even on our list.  But while waiting for a storm to pass, we had some time to kill.  I'm so glad we went.  The views were fantastic!

And I love this second photo of Pretty Girl!  Hip, cute and sporting her latest budgeted souvenir purchase, my daughter was strutting her stuff in downtown Waikiki.    

#8 - Swap Meet

When Greg and I visited Hawaii together in 2004, the Swap Meet in the Hawaii State Stadium was kind of a new phenomenon.  Now it's full-fledged crazy - but a good kind of crazy.  It's only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays.  And while we meant to go only 1x during our trip, we ended up going back Saturday morning.  

All of us came away with a few trinkets, shirts and cold coconut slices that didn't taste so hot the next day.  

#9 - Diamond Head Hike

The near constant rain made our hiking plans void.  Too much mud.  

But we finally managed to hike Diamond Head on Sunday morning.  And what a hike!!  3 sets of steep stairs, 2 tunnels and at least a dozen switchbacks.  Also crowded.  But the views.  Oh, the views!  

Unfortunately, it was the morning after James caught some dreaded Kamehameha curse and was completely out.  He slept on a bench at the base of the volcano while we trekked to the top.  

#10 - The Scenery

Every time we drove the highways into Kailua, I started snapping pictures.  I couldn't help it.  

Our favorite highway was the H3 - the newest and most expensive of the 3 highways.  It's also home to the Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven).  You can sort of see the stairs/ladder along the ridge in the first photo below.  It will take you straight up to the cliffs where King Kamehameha forced his enemies to march right off the mountains to their deaths.  We were enthralled and very tempted to hike.  Except it's also illegal.  A big political mess.  There's another way around on the other side of the Ko'olaus, but it takes 8-10 hours and the trails are too steep for my mother's heart.  

Still - we were all fascinated and pointed it out every time we passed.      


#11 - The Pali Look-out

This spot is special.  

Check out the before and after moments.  Greg and I stood on this spot together 13 years ago.  We were in the middle of failing IVF treatments, piles of adoptions papers and days that weighed heavy on my heart.  I specifically remember soaking in the horizon back then in an attempt to lighten the dark despair that followed me wherever I went.  I remember that week helped a lot.  It was the calm I needed before the worst months that followed.    

Look at the view now. 

And more generations to come back another day.      

#12 - Valley of the Temples

On the way back up to Laie, you have to pass the Valley of the Temples.  I wasn't too impressed with this spot last time.  I've changed my mind.  We all kind of fell in love with this beautiful, peaceful place.  

Andrew was the guru here.  He was coming off a huge unit on Buddhism, and so the Byodo-In temple in the middle of the grounds made the darling boy go bananas!  Inside the temple, Andrew narrated the personal history of Buddha himself and a brief background on the faith.  It was perfect.  

There are 3-4 black swans here, and I was captivated.  There's also hundreds and hundreds of koi, turtles and a couple dozen toads - very loud, mating toads.  You're supposed to be quiet here.  The toads were not.  Ha!     

Regardless, it's impossible not to feel peaceful here.  

#13 - Everything Else

Full disclosure here (because it's important to record the bad AND the good).  There were several low moments on this trip, typical fights/arguments that had to be broken up, not once, not twice, but multiple times!  Sibling strife doesn't take a vacation just because you're on one.  We dealt with grumpy kids, grumpy parents, cloudy days, disappointments and my own lingering resentment towards my children that they weren't appreciating this trip enough!  I think I swore to myself at least 2x that I would never do a vacation of this magnitude with my kids again.  

From now on, it's just Greg and me

Of course, that resolve won't last.  There's too much I want them to see.

I hope they remember the good times.  The best times more than the upset times.  We won't be back to Hawaii again as a young family.  So I hope someday when they take their own families here, they'll have happy recollections of being here with us.   

Reluctantly heading home to jobs with LOTS of pressing emails, 2 days of missed school for kids, obligations, and stress.  We left behind a rental car with soooo much sand.