Sunday, July 30, 2006

On the Road to Hana.....

Day seven of our vacation in Hawaii found us up at dawn again as we wanted to drive to Hana that day but still be back in time for a Luau that evening (can't leave Maui without having tried a Luau) So off we went down(and up) the curving roads to Hana. The area is very lush and green with many waterfalls along the way. We did find that the book "Maui Revealed" was obviously written with serious hikers in mind. One of the waterfalls the book writes about is The Three Bears. It gives very detailed instructions on how to get to the waterfalls from the main road. It talks about that it is a pretty easy walk but to watch out for the first step. So we are thinking, okay that means there is a 18" drop or something like that. Nooooo!!!! They mean that it is a 15 foot drop down an almost vertical rock wall. Ok as we already pointed out, I am both vertically and horizontally challenged, so I might could have gotten down but I sure was not going to be able to get back up. So we enjoyed the three bears from afar and left the rock climbing to the experts.

These two pictures are of the black sand beach near Hana. I have forgotten the name of the park it is located in. It was a well developed area but still quite a trek up and down to get to the beach. I was surprised that the sand was not hot since it was black. It is also more like smooth little pebbles than what we think of as sand. It was quite awesome to see.

By the time we got to Hana and had a terribly overpriced hamburger, it was time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the Luau that night. While hubby was getting ready for the Luau, I snuck down and ordered up a massage on the beach for him the next morning as a birthday present. He was quite happy with his birthday gift. The Luau was fun with good food, and decent entertainment. The Luau we attended was held near Black Rock and they had a diver climb up on Black Rock with a torch and then dive off as the Luau was about to begin. I liked the fact that they said a prayer before they began the Luau. They had singing and dancing hula girls (and boys) and a fire dancer. Good Piggy! It was a nice relaxing way to celebrate Hubby's 40th birthday and to end our vacation.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And On The Sixth Day:

we rested (sort of)!

We really did not plan anything for the sixth day because it was a holiday and we figured the traffic would be really bad. This was the closest we came to actually sleeping in, I slept till about 8 or so and I think hubby might have made it till 9. We had a late breakfast in the hotel restaurant, The Beach Club. This is the view from our breakfast table. Nice relaxing way to start the day! The next three pictures are some of the pretty flowers that we came across on the property. The smell was just amazing.

So much for resting, we ended up getting the car and going to South Maui. We went out to Wailea and drove through the lava fields. That was cool. I always thought of lava as being the black cracked stuff that looks like tar but this was what was blown out and it is porous and red colored. Some of it is black but the red fields were so cool looking because they looked like someone had spray painted little balls of syrofoam and dumped it all over the place. Again the roads were very winding and narrow and the locals would run you over if you did not get out of the way.

We ate at a place called Lulu's that was supposed to be the best hamburger in the nation--Not! but pleasant place and nice waiter. Then we walked thru these little shops that were basically open booths and got some good deals on some jewelry and things for little K.

We got back to the hotel in time to have a nice dinner looking out over the beach area and watch all the crazy people shooting off fireworks. One guy had made a huge mound of sand (about 3 feet high) and was dropping all kinds of explosive down a hole in the center. Since fireworks are illegal in our area of TX it seemed like they were all doing something they shouldn't be doing but apparently it is legal there, even Wal Mart sells fireworks in Maui! We watched them for awhile but decided a bunch of drunk people on the beach shooting fireworks might be hazardous to our health! There were two young guys throwing bottle rockets and ever so often they would get confused as to which way the ocean was, that was our cue to get the heck out of there!!!!

One more full day of vacation left. Hubby's birthday, trip to Hana and a Luau all coming up!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 5- Let's go Snorkeling

Sorry I don't have any pictures of the snorkeling, it was a little overcast and the underwater pictures came out dark, so I can't show you any of the pretty fish we saw. These are pictures of the boat I took off their web page and the round one is a picture of the Molokini Crater, where we snorkeled.

I don't know what it is about us but we never get to sleep in on our vacations, it always seems like we have to get up early to get somewhere. I had reserved a Snorkel Cruise on the Four Winds II and we had to be at the harbor by 7 am, so up and at 'em early on Day 5. The boat was nice and they had some fruit and bagels with cream cheese for a light breakfast waiting for us. There was a photographer onboard who went around taking everyones picture for the video they sell at the end of the trip.

It took about an hour to get out to the site at the Molokini Crater where we were to snorkel. I have snorkeled two or three times previously but am nervous about jumping into the ocean. I tend to panic and hyperventilate. My husband has repeatedly told me that it would be virtually impossible for me to drown out there as I float really easily given that I am horizontally challenged (ie fat) That may be true but my brain does not believe it and reacts by causing me to hyperventilate. I waited until almost everyone else was in the water before I dared to go in. I grabbed a boggie board and in I went.

I reacted the same way I do with MRI's and Cat Scans---I panicked! But I worked through it the same way I do with the test, I just talk myself through it and if that does not work I pray or sing and usually that will calm me down. It took a few minutes to get comfortable with the water but soon I was laying on my board with my face in the water looking at all the pretty fish. After a little while, hubby got a leak in his mask and was getting water in his sinuses, poor thing, that did not feel good I am sure.

They served us a BBQ lunch (which by the way in Hawaii--BBQ means grilled burgers, hot dogs or chicken breast--not BBQ like you get in the south with BBQ sauce) It was pretty good, although I am not sure I like the ground beef in Hawaii, it taste a bit different than what I am used to. They included beer and soft drinks (wine too I think) but we stuck to the soft drinks.

After lunch, we snorkeled a bit more! This time I just jumped right in off the side of the boat, did not even use the ladder. I was quite proud of myself for conquering my fear of the water. The fish did not seem as brightly colored as the one's we saw in Cancun on our honeymoon but they were still very pretty and facinating to watch. On the way back to the harbor, we stopped briefly in what they call "Turtle Town" and were able to see several of the big Turtles swimming around.

Hubby is suseptable to motion sickness so he had taken 2 dramamine tablets (less drowsy formula) but still was feeling rather poorly by the time we got back to the harbor. We went back to the room and hubby crashed for awhile. Later that evening, we went to the Aloha Mixed Plate (thanks for recommending it JB) I had the Coconut Shrimp (Yummy) and Hubby had a plate with several native dishes on it, I can't remember what all it had but I think it was Mahi Mahi with some type of Mango Chutney, Poi, Salmon somthing or other, and of course no plate would be right without the sticky rice and macaroni salad.

Hubby unfortunately suffered for most of the day feeling like he was still on the boat, rising and falling. We called it a early night and slept well, dreaming of beautiful blue water and pretty fishes.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunday in Maui-Day 4

Sunday, we wake up to wet carpet again! It is a total pain because you can't get into the bathroom without gettting your feet wet and then you slide on the tile floor. So we decide that if the carpet is still wet when we get back this afternoon we want a new room. Hubby calls the front desk and tells them the carpet is wet again.

Blogging Friend Maui Mama invited us to go to church with her and stay for a picnic afterwards. It was a 4th of July theme service with all the national hymns and patriotic songs. They had a group of men perform a song in sign language. It was very impressive, they were totally in sync with each other.

We enjoyed spending time with Maui Mama and her family. I have not asked her for permission to post the picture we took so I will not post it. The picnic was held across the street at a park. They had set up a waterslide for the kids and a pool. They had 5 young people baptized in that pool that day, it was great to be able to witness that. The congregation was very friendly, with lots of good food at the picnic. It was great to be with people who actually live on the island rather than just around the tourist spots.

Later in the day we went to IOA Valley State Park. All the pictures above were taken there. It was a beautiful area of greenery and streams. There were some beautiful pools but idiot people jumping off of the bridge into the pools from 20 or 30 feet up (in spite of signs everywhere telling you not to jump from bridge). One man was allowing his 6 or 7 yr old son to jump off the bridge. Hubby had to hold me back to keep me from slapping him silly! (Sorry, the child abuse investigator in me rears it head occasionally!) It was a little blonde headed boy so it was not like a native hawaiian who had done it all his life!

We made a stop at Wal- Mart for some supplies we needed for the snorkel boat the next day. We got off without any beach towels so we picked up some cheap ones and a couple of snorkel mask (apparently we got a cheap one of those too because mine broke the first time I tried to use it). We also picked up some groceries, whew people in Maui pay a lot for stuff. A box of wheat thins was almost $4., Milk is about $8. a gallon and gasoline is about $3.62, almost a dollar a gallon more than here.
I noticed that cars were expensive too, even used cars demanded a high price.

We got back to the hotel, and I feel the carpet--yeah, it is dry! Until we turn on the A/C! So we went down and they offered us a room on the sixth floor with not as good of a view. The first room had been on the 9th ( they called it the Penthouse floor) and it was right in the center of the hotel (hotel was shaped like a U with a courtyard in the middle with two pools, a gazebo and a restaurant.) We went and checked it out, and while the view was not as pretty, the room was much better, it was bigger, airier, had great ventalation and two windows. We could have done without the A/C in this new room but not in the old one. The first room was long and narrow, with the rooms stacked one behind the other. This one was kind of triangle shaped, with better furniture (not as good of a kitchen but we did not cook anyway!) So we moved and were much happier with the new room, which did not have any water leaks that we were aware of!

We had a lovely dinner at the hotel that night. (part of the package we bought included a credit in their dining room) then off to dream land before we departed on our Snorkel Cruise on Day 5!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Maui-Day 3

Because we did not have a car, we were at the mercy of the transfer company as to when we went to the airport for our flight to Maui. They picked us up at 7 am for a 10:30 flight. We thought, no problem they probably have several hotels to stop at before the airport so we won't be waiting at the airport that long--WRONG. We are the only stop and we are at the airport by about 7 30 or so. The Aloha Airlines have nice, efficent, polite employees. We were greeted with smiles and asked would we like to go to Maui on an earlier flight? Sure, so we were boarding a plane by 8 am. No semi-strip searches, just polite people! The flight to Maui is very short. Basically they walk down the aisle and throw little cups of guava juice at you and then turn around and want the trash before we land!

So we arrive in Maui, all our luggage arrives in Maui. We ride the little bus over to the car rental place. Nice employees again--All right-- this vacation is getting better and better! We pick up the rental car-- a blue convertable (blue is hubby's favorite color--last four cars have been blue- we own two blue ones now!) so we put the top down and head to the hotel. Life is Good in Maui!!!!!

Maui has some traffic but nothing like Oahu. There is a constant breeze blowing, sometimes it becomes quite a wind storm but most of the time it is just a good breeze going on. We are driving past mountains and beautiful shoreline, gorgeous boats on the water, parks with people surfing. Life is REAL Good in Maui!

Get to the Hotel--Kaapanali Shores- we pull up and the bell hop greets us and tells us to just leave the car there and go register and then he will help us with the bags. Alright, polite employees--looking good. The hotel was older but you could tell they put a lot of time into keeping it looking nice. We check in and the lady could have been nicer but she was okay. The room is good, it is being reneivated in stages. So it has new paint, new carpet, new furniture but the cabinets in the kitchen and appliances are a little old. (Top two pictures above are the living room of hotel room and view from the balcony. Did I mention that it has a gorgeous view from the balcony? ) Still very satisfactory--gorgeous view out the balcony! We are very happy, until I take off my shoes and walk into the bedroom and step in a huge wet spot on the carpet. The spot is right between the bedroom and the bathroom, can't get to either room without stepping in it. First thing I do is make sure it is water and not dog pee or something equally disgusting. Nope it is just water and we figure it is coming from the A/C (we are right!) So we call downstairs, they say they will take care of it right away.

We have reservations for a Magic Show at 5 pm, several hours to kill, so we decide to go drive the West side of Maui and see the shore and the blowholes and stuff that is described in "Maui Revealed" (thanks for the recommendation JB) (BTW- we highly recommend this book if you are going to Maui--very helpful) On the way out of hotel we go by the front desk because there were supposed to be tickets left for us for two of the excursions I had purchased online before we left the mainland. So we remind them at the front desk that there is a big water spot on the carpet in our room would they please try to take care of it. Sure, they would take care of it. The front desk did not have our tickets so they told us to check with Concierge Desk. Now the Concierge Desk has a big sign over it that says "EXPEDIA and Concierge" but it should just say EXPEDIA because when hubby asked about the tickets, the rude employee (I have lost count of what number she is) said to him "Did you buy it from expedia?" Hubby says "No" and before he can say anything about the front desk sending us over. She says"then we don't have it" and turned her back on him!" How Rude! Maybe in Maui Concierge means something different then it does everywhere else in the world!

We stopped for lunch in a strip mall and found a wonderful craft fair going on, so we were able to pick up a dress and some stuff for darling daughter, very cheap. Coastline is beautiful, very winding and scary at times when you meet the locals on these very narrow roads. The water was beautiful, different shades of blue depending on if there was coral present. Very windy! (Picture is of the shoreline in West Maui, it was kind of overcast so the colors are not coming thru as clear as they were in person.) We spent several hours exploring the coast line. We got back to the hotel about 3 30 or 4 00.

Guess what the carpet is still wet! So I got a bath mat from the housekeeping staff (very polite lady--who offered to call about the wet carpet) She managed to get someone up there in about 10 minutes time. In fact I was in the shower and I could hear them sucking up the water with a wet vac right outside the door--I was glad I had shut and locked the door (don't usually if it is just me and hubby!) So Now we know that housekeeping has the power in this hotel! Good info to know!

We went to see a show called Warren and Annabelle. Annabelle is a ghost who plays the piano and Warren is a magician and comedian. I don't want to say too much about it in case someone reading this decides to go but it was a great evening and if you have the chance you should go. I had emailed them that I needed to sit towards the front due to my lipreading and they reserved us the two seats right in the middle down front and I was able to get most of the show through lipreading and had a great view of the tricks. Very Funny Show and very nice employees!

We get back to the hotel and you guessed it, the carpet is wet again. So we called and let them know and went to bed with wet carpet but nice Maui dreams! Tomorrow, Church with Maui Mama!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Oahu-Day 2

Blogger is not letting me put the pictures where I want them. The beach scene above left is on Oahu. The man on the right is our tour guide, Peter.

This was the oceanview (and other hotel view) from the 17th floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriott. The room was clean and nice. The bed was very soft and comfy. As part of our package, we had a free breakfast with the room. The buffet was very good but we had to get up early (5 am) so we could catch our bus at 6:15 am.

First stop: Pearl Harbor. Our bus driver was a 72 year old native Hawaiian. His name was Peter. Pictured above in the big hat and green shirt. Peter scared me half to death right off the bat, by turning onto a one way street and in trying to compensate and get back onto the main street almost hit a street sign with the side of the bus (I was sitting next to the window!) He told us the story of eating breakfast with his family as a 7 year old, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. His parents yelled for him to leave his breakfast and come with them, he said that he had a hole in the seat of his pajamas and did not want to get up and go with them. His babysitters' house burned down from fallout from the attack. Pearl Harbor was quite interesting and moving to visit. They have reflective captioning so I was able to understand the movie they show about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. We were able to pick up a flag that had flown above Pearl Harbor for hubby's grandfather. He is a WWII veteran and we thought he might like to have that.

After touring Pearl Harbor, we reboarded our little bus and started on a circle tour of the island. We went to the Dole Plantation (mostly just a tourist stop now) and had some yummy pineapple ice cream! Then we made our way around the island, stopping at various places along the way. Blowholes, beaches and a Macadamia nut farm. We also spent some time in front of Peter's house where he pointed out several trees in his yard and several of his relatives houses in the neighborhood (still don't know what was up with that!) It was a long day but we were able to see a lot more of Oahu than we would have seen on our own. Traffic in Oahu is bad and I would not want to drive there.

That evening we walked along the beach and ended up having a "Cheeseburger In Paradise". It was fun for us because our Life Group had just had a Karoke night and that was one of the songs that we sang. The cheeseburger was good but the chocolate desert was better! We ended the evening with a short stroll on the beach before heading back up to the room.

Off to bed for us, for tomorrow we go to MAUI!

Trip to Hawaii- Part 1

I know that it is going to take several post to tell you all about our awesome trip to Hawaii! Let me start off by saying that my husband has been very blessed in the last few years with his company and is a Manager with a major aerospace company. We are not rich (except spiritually) but are doing okay and have no debt except for the mortgage. I say all that so you don't get the wrong idea when I tell this story.

Because this was a 15 year anniversary and a 40th birthday celebration, we decided that we would splurge and go First Class. It almost doubled the cost of the trip for us but we decided that it was worth it, not to be cramped and uncomfortable for 15 hours travel time. I have flown 1st class only one other time in my life and that was a free upgrade on a one hour trip from Dallas. So this is not a way of life for us!

We took darling daughter to my parents on June 27th and spent the night with them. (Bed #1) and then drove to Houston on the 28th and stayed in a hotel that night (Bed#2) We checked the internet and the flight to Denver was scheduled, no problems. We went to bed early and got up at 4 :30 to catch our plane to Denver.

When we arrived at Intercontiental and went to check in with United, we were told that the crew did not show up for our flight to Denver, the plane would be delayed for 3 hours and we would not be able to make the connecting flight in Denver to Honolulu. The woman (rude employee #1) behind the desk obviously did not like her job, she was totally without emotion. United put us on a Contiential flight to LA (coach- about a 4 hour flight) and when we arrived in LA we were to catch a United Flight to Honolulu (also coach because they had no room in first class) They would not refund any of our money, said we would have to work it out with the company later. I am in tears by this point, our dream vacation is crumbling right before our eyes. Not to meantion that we had spent quite a bit of money for first class seats that we were not getting.

We were high tailing it from one terminal to another when lo and behold, because they had reissued the tickets that morning, we were flagged with the dreaded quadruple S and subject to extra security messures. So I am standing in the airport bawling as they pat me down and search my luggage. Well, it is hard to lip read when you are crying. So it was terribly confusing. Finally, we get thru security and get onto the plane bound for LA. Did they put us in the back or the plane?--No they put us two seats back from 1st class so we had a perfect view of all the wonderful pleasures that first class was enjoying. Our flight attendant (rude employee #2) on this flight also apparently loved (not) her job. I was beginning to think that there were no nice people in the airline business.

Once we got to LA things began to get a little better. We found out that the plane to HNL was going to be delayed by about 1/2 an hour but they were replacing our plane with a larger one, so we were able to get the first class seats. The two flight attendants on this flight were very good. Friendly, kind and efficient. They even gave us a box of Macadamia nuts as a gift. The plane was a 747 with sleeper chairs (made into beds) with little individual monitors and movies. That was more like it. So the 5 hour flight to HNL was much, much better than the trip to LA.

We arrived in HNL about 3 pm their time, which was about 8pm our time. It had already been a long day. They crammed about 12 of us into a passanger van and took us to the hotel. Traffic in Oahu is horrible. The bus driver was cutting people off and swerving into traffic, all the while keeping up a steady commentary about the island. He punctuated everything by raising his index finger above his head! Quite a character!

It was close to 5 pm when we arrived at the Waikiki Beach Marriott. Beautiful Hotel with a beautiful courtyard! We go to register and we have two rooms, which have both been paid for in full. Will they give us a refund on one, nope! We will have to work it out with the tour company later. The room is lovely with what they call a full oceanview ( I would have called it partial because you had to be standing dead center on the balcony to see the ocean but it was nice!) We ate at the hotel and enjoyed a good buffet and some ukele playing. We were pretty pooped so went to bed a little early that night (bed #3)!

So was the 1st day of our vacation! Six more days to go! To Be Continued!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Home From Hawaii!

Aloha! We are back home from a wonderful trip to Oahu and Maui, Hawaii! It was so beautiful there! We had a great time but are totally exhausted! I promise I will write all about it soon but not tonight! My bed is calling my name. I have slept in 7 different beds over the last 12 nights and am really looking forward to my own!

This picture was taken from our hotel room in Maui! Beautiful isn't it! More to come I promise! Blessings to all! Night Night!