Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Final full day on the Big Island (Day 7)

So after a short break I am finishing the Hawaii trip report: Thursday was our last full day on the Big Island. We have reservations for a luau tonight but wanted to spend the day on his side of the island in the water. We left fairly early so we could try and get some family pictures taken. The problem was that the kids were really in no mood for pictures. After a few attempts I gave up and my kids were off to the waves. We stayed at Hapuna Beach for all morning and then headed back to our resort. we probably could have stayed a little longer but we had cut it pretty close the last time we had an evening event and Alicia was set on having plenty of time to get ready for the Luau. We also had to stop off and buy a suitcase for the present we had bought Ethan for his birthday. We got back with plenty of time so e all took showers and started to pack for the morning flight. We then headed to the hotel for the Island Breeze Luau at King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. We were all excited for this. The place was very pretty and they had fun things for the kids to do before the start. They got tattoos, learned how to throw the fire stick, and we watched the pig come out of the pit.
Finally it was time to eat and then enjoy the show.
Those dancers were amazing and it was nice to spend the last night with our friends here. We went back to our resort and started packing a bit. Our flight in the morning isn't too early so we can finish then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Weekend 2012

I love that Memorial Weekend is kind of the unofficial kick off to summer and our weekend felt like the perfect start. Friday Ben took off early to come to the schools assembly to see Alicia (and a few other school mates) get an award for leadership.
Alicia is in the front row second in from the right in pink. She didn't know she was getting an award so it was a surprise to see us there. We then took Ben's parents out to dinner and a little side trip to see a building downtown Salem that we may be interested in. Saturday we worked in our yard in the morning and then headed into town to run errands and get lunch. The yard work was pretty large scale. The lady who lived here before planted everything she could get her hands on. I felt bad ripping out perfectly fine plants but they were all so close they were stunting the growth of each other. So we tore bushes and plants out and then decided we had to also take out the weed barrier as it was just sewn with ground covering. I can't stand having every inch of the garden covered.
I wish I had gotten pictures before we started. But you get the idea. We could only get a quarter of what we needed done as even after we filled our yard debris can we made piles on the side of our house too. I love walking out of my house now and seeing fresh bark with just a few bushes and the maple tree. Just a few more weekends and the front yard might get under control.
SO much nicer. When we were out running errands we went to Lowes and grabbed some raspberry and strawberry plants to go with the blueberry plants we got last month. Those went in our backyard. In a few years it will be so nice to just walk outside and have berries. Saturday evening we rented Captain America for the kids. They had seen Avengers and wanted to know more about each character. They liked Avengers better. :) Sunday Ben took Alicia on her date for the month. They headed to Portland so she could visit Voodoo Doughnuts. Ethan and I made a visit to Shivers. Then that afternoon some friends of Ben's invited us and another family over for a traeger BBQ cookoff. That was great fun and really yummy. Ben and I were also lucky enough to score the meat leftovers!!! Monday we took the leftovers down to my parents house and were pleasantly surprised when my uncle and cousin were there. I haven't seen them in MANY years so it was nice to see and hug them.
Alicia also got to learn how to use my moms old sewing machine. Mom gave it to me years ago but I don't sew. Alicia is taking a quilting class this summer adn has to know how to use the machine. So we took it down and mom helped her figure it all out. I have no desire to sew but am excited that Alicia is showing an interest. We then took the kids to SPLASH! in Springfield. They love the wave pool there.
We sat far away so they are not the most clear pictures.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hilo Day

We spent the week at a condo in the Kona area of Hawaii. Today we were going to drive across the island and see Hilo. When I was doing research there was controversy about driving Saddle Road that goes across the island. People feel it a dangerous road because of the weather. I now am not sure what the big deal is. Not sure if maybe living in Oregon where we drive in the rain more days then not played into it but I didn't think it was that big of a deal. The drive over is about 2 hours. It started to rain the last half of the drive and I was wishing we had just stayed back in Kona. I didn't want to be in Hawaii in the pouring rain. When we got to Hilo we decided to head to the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens first. Alicia was excited to see a Bengal Tiger. When we got there the rains had just stopped so that was very nice. This was a nice little zoo. Lots of beautiful vegetation, even saw a pink pineapple plant. The Bengal Tiger was asleep when we walked by so that was disappointing.
The boys enjoyed the parrots more then I would have imagined they would have. Kept talking to it. Poor parrot.
Peacocks were also everywhere around the zoo. We watched a couple for awhile. We were imagining it was a female that was being stalked by this male trying to show how beautiful he was. Finally she had enough and walked over to another peacock strutting his stuff. It was really quite hilarious.
After the zoo we wanted to find the Macadamia Factory but never did. Instead we found the farmers Market. We walked through there and bought a few souveniers. We then piled back into the cars and went to Akaka Falls. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs a bit. The vegetation here is just so different then what we have. Trees that have hanging roots, HUGE fern plants, leaves that are the size of bushes. It was a very pretty hike. The water fall was pretty but again we are spoiled here in the Willamette Northwest with our own beautiful falls. These darn kids never want to take pictures and look like goof balls half the time!!
It was now dinner time so we headed into Waimea. We tired to go to a couple of different restaurants but they didn't work out so we took them to our new faorite place in Hawaii- Solimene's. The older three kids were not in the mood for pizza. They went next door for Subway while the rest of us headed in and had some yummy pizza and more marinara sauce! We then headed back to our side of the island for more homework, laundry and bed.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Tonight SYTYCD starts back up and I will be reminded again that I love love love this show AND I wish I could dance! ;) I also wish they had some dance classes for young boys in the area. Ethan has some natural rhythm and I would like to live my dream out through him.

The Big Night

Today was the day I had been looking forward to. Tonight we were going to snorkeling with Manta Rays. It was supposed to be this amazing experience. But lets not jump ahead of ourselves here. Today is Alicia's best friends birthday. He wasn't thrilled being in Hawaii for his birthday hopefully he didn't think it was too bad of a day. We wanted to spend the morning in the water-on a beach. So we took them to our new love, the Hapuna Beach.
The adults went snorkeling and Gena and I saw a couple of sea turtles!! The first one I saw was not that big but I freaked out. It was hard to breath through the snorkel and be freaked out. I wanted to be careful of it but at the same time I was a bit scared of it. So I didn't stick with it very long. The second one I saw was MUCH bigger but the water was getting cloudy so I didn't stick with that one long either. My friend on the other hand swam the length of the beach with one. She said it was an amazing experience. We spent a few hours there and then decided to go check out a beach someone suggested to them. This beach was probably the kids favorite. The waves were much bigger here so they got tossed around pretty good. Not an incredibly kid friendly beach but great for older kids. And of course Ethan spent more time then anyone in the sand. :) He loves the ocean but it scares him a bit so he doesn't stay in as long as the others.
We only had an hour to spend here before we needed to get back for our night excursion. The problem was our friends had gotten sea sick earlier in the week and they were not keen on going out to sea again. They ended up canceling 3 of their families 6 spots when the company found replacements.
I wanted you to see what a manta ray looks like, at night, so I copied this picture from the wesite of the company we went through-Manta Ray Dives of Hawaii.
The Manta Ray Night Snorkel was really one of those once in a lifetime experiences. It wasn't my favorite of the trip and I probably wouldn't ever do it again but there is nothing -NOTHING- like having a manta ray an inch from your face. There was probably 30 of us that boarded this boat that took us out to sea. On the way we saw spinner dolphins. That was a real treat for us. Then they anchor near a bunch of other boats. You put on a wetsuit and they rubberband a glow stick to your snorkel. Once you get in the water they hand the adults BRIGHT flashlights. The lights in the water attract plankton, this in turn attracts manta rays. They have everyone grab on to a ring made of water noodles. Then you swim out a ways from your boat where everyone from the other boats are and they manta rays just show up. This night there were about 11 where we were and 11 where another group was! They said that is a good night. When we first got in the water Ethan was having none of it. He just would not try and go out. So I got back on the boat and we watched from the bow. This ended up being a good spot because the boat in front of us had a massive light shining on the water for a bit so Ethan could see the manta rays. For him this was just right. He kept saying we had a better view anyway. A little while later the girls came back with Ben because they were too cold. This allowed me to have my turn out there. You lie flat on the water holding on to the ring of noodles. Then as everyone shines their lights inside the ring the manta rays do their graceful moves beneath you as they eat the plankton. They literally get an inch from your body. You can hear "oohs" and "aahs" through water every few seconds. It was truly amazing but I was cold. The cold kind of gets in the way of enjoying it to its fullest. We then headed back to our resort, scrounged for food in our fridge and were off to bed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Solo Family Day

Monday was day 4 on the Island. Today our family's split up and did different activities. Our family went horseback riding in the morning up in the mountains of Mauna Kea at Dahana Ranch. This was right up Alicia's alley. She hasn't been on a horse for over a year and misses it. I thought this would be a fun chance for all of us to to do something she enjoys. We ended up being with another group. Two men who each brought one son. I believe these men are probably part time fathers. Their kids ran wild. The poor dogs and cat took a beating. Anyway we all got situated on our horses and had a 1.5 hour ride. The place is gorgeous. Green rolling hills for as far as the eyes can see but I am not sure any of us had much time to look around because we were all trying so hard to get our horses to obey us. It wasn't a trail ride. You were supposed to get your horse to ride on the land where you wanted but they all seemed to want to go where they wanted. I was glad when the ride was over and we could get back to some fun things.
Alicia did enjoy the ride but I am pretty sure we won't do anymore family horse riding. When we got back in the jeep we rented we said we wished we had gone with the other family on their excursion. But we got texts soon after saying they had all, all but 1, gotten sea sick and were not feeling well enough to meet up for some snorkeling. It was lunchtime so we asked the guy if there was a good restaurant in town. He suggested Solimene's in Waimea. We are so glad we listened to him. Not only was the Italian food tasty, I could have drank the marinara sauce, but we had a fun surprise. The owners son is on The Next Food Network Star!! That is on of our favorite shows. We are enjoying watching the young Hawaiian do well on the show and feel like we "know" him. *******With the afternoon ahead of us we decided to find a good beach.
We first found a beach that both Ethan and I enjoyed, A-bay. Very pretty and great sand for Ethan to play in while Ben and Alicia played in the ocean but it was VERY windy today and they didn't like this beach. Off we went to find another beach. We finally found Hapuna Beach that had it all. Great waves for body boarding, some coral for snorkeling lots of great sand to lounge on.
It really was perfect and we knew when we left a few hours later we would have to bring our friends back. We started the drive back to our resort and decided to stop off at a market that we thought would have some food and maybe some fruit. When we got out of our cars we saw the other family we had come with!! The kids were so glad to be back together. There ended up being no food here but more like flea market stuff. The kids each bought a whistle and Ethan found a bongo he wanted so we bought that for his birthday.
Then we separated again as we were off to find some dinner. We found some fast food and got a Pina Colada at Orange Julius. It was so yummy with real flavor. Way yummier then the ones stateside. It was now time to head to our resort, start some laundry, work on homework and get to bed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Day

After our second full day on Hawaii we were ready for one of our longest days in the car. We drove down to Hawaii's National Volcano Park. It is quite a drive so we left fairly early on the Sunday. We had a few stops to make on the way there so that broke it up but we still got back around dark. One of my favorite things from the whole trip was stopping off at PUNALU'U Bake Shop. We got there before it opened and so we wandered their gorgeous gardens there while smelling their Hawaiian sweet bread baking. Heavenly. Then when they opened we bought some breakfast and sat around eating while we took turns browsing their gift store. It was such a pleasant time I really didn't want to leave. But I corralled the group and off we went.
We continued on to the black sand beach about 5 minutes away. We didn't spend much time here but it was a nice break and the black sand was interesting to feel.
We finally made it to the Park but decided to eat lunch after our short time through the Kilauea Visitor Center. We found a fun place to eat that even served poppy seed bread while we waited to order. The food was good and the building was charming.
Back to the Park we went. First we drove to the Thurston Lava Tube which was a very short hike. I thought it was cool to walk through a lava tube but the kids rushed through and I am not sure they cared much. Good to get their legs moving though.
Then we continued our long drive on the Chain of Crates Road to the Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs. We did make one small stop off where the men and kids just walked the lava rock. The kids really enjoyed this and when they got back we cut open our first pineapple of the trip. It was sweet and tasty. The lady at the Visitor Center had said the kids would be interested in the petroglyphs trail but boy was she wrong. It was intensily hot and even though it said it was a 1.4 round trip hike it felt like MORE. The petroglyphs themselves were intriguing but I am not sure that on this day they were worth it. We made one more short stop and then we started the 2.5 hour drive back to our resort. We did stop off at our shave ice place for another yummy treat. Then home to bed. So today was one of those days that the kids just did not care for. I do not regret going. You have to go to the Volcano National Park if you are on this island but the kids won't have fond memories. I am really glad that this was a day we had friends with us. This was the only thing that kept them from complaining too much. Don't get me wrong we did hear complaining but I cannot imagine how much worse it would have been if they hadn't had friends to run around with.