DAY 5 | Kuliouou Ridge Hike & Aloha Stadium

Monday, May 22, 2017

A must see and recommended by everyone was the Aloha stadium. On Saturday for a few hours, all these vendors sell the exact same stuff as the vendor next to them around the Aloha Stadium. But, of course as tourists, we had to see it.

After walking past the fifth vendor we realized everyone was selling the exact same typical Hawaiian tourist merchandise that you just had to buy to prove you were in Hawaii. It was so crowded and awful to find a parking spot that we vowed we would only walk around for a bit and head home. Before we knew it, we had walked around the whole stadium. I guess the replica vendors are just really that enticing! haha It was fun though. We bought hawaiian sandals, some wood plates, some salad tongs, a keychain, a hat, and some key wristlets. We will NEVER forget our time in Hawaii now. :)

Later that afternoon Meredith wanted to take us on one of her favorite hikes. Its called the Kuliouou Ridge Hike, see more about it here. When she found some residential parking (i know, i know, there is NO parking in Hawaii), she pointed to where we would be hiking and my stomach flipped a few times. And a few more. It was hecka high and I really doubted my leg capabilities. We started up the hike and it wasn't too bad and rather enjoyable. Duh, I forgot we were hiking at sea level. It wasn't until about 1.5 miles Meredith said, "yeah we are almost there." But thats when it got hard. Like every ten steps I was taking a breather. And whizzing up the mountain is Meredith, 4 months pregnant and hiking like she's walking on the sidewalk. I kept yelling to Meredith and Bronson (Bryan had to stay late at the hospital, meredith is such a good sport), "hey remember me!? I'm still here, dying!"

Regardless of how much I complained, the views were some of the very best and every half a mile you were walking through different Hawaii forestry.

Really happy with my choice to purchase life insurance -- especially at times when I'm this high. 
4 MONTHS and rocking it

We went to the top of that mountain. Evidence that Bryan eventually joined us on the hike, halfway down the mountain. 

Rewarded ourselves with an acai bowl in this shack of a resturant that apparently Obama himself visited. Thanks Yelp for being the best travel guide ever. Wouldn't have found this place without you. 

Spending time with Meredith in Hawaii totally kickstarted this urge to spend more time outdoors and more time being active. She was such a great example of that. Bowing down to her for basically being a single mom, 4 months pregnant, and totally keeping her cool, ALL THE TIME. ROCKSTAR MOM.

Some takeaways: 
- Do do do do this hike. Your fitbit will thank you and all your friends are going to be so jealous
- Go to this place. Can't remember what its called. But Obama went there, so should you.
- Eat Teddy's fries afterwards. SO GOOD. Especially their ranch kind. SO GOOD. I live for fries.

Day 4: Laie | PCC | BYU-Hawaii | Valley of the Temples

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The beautiful part about O'ahu is within a weeks time you can really see a good majority if the island. I feel like we picked a handful of things we really wanted to see and left the "kinda want to see, but want to spend time with the kids" for the another trip to O'ahu.

On Friday we travelled to the north and eastern parts of the island. After only traveling 50 minutes north, it seemed like we had gone to a different island. If I didn't have free room and board and the cutest kids in the world to stay with in Honolulu, I would recommend staying in Laie, north shore area. It is quaint and cute and that "Hawaiian" feel to it, completely laid back and intimate.

On our way to Laie, we stopped by the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples of the God. I had seen it in pictures and saw how beautiful it was, I wanted to stop by. Basically, there are all these temples from different religions sprinkled through out this most beautiful scenic cemetary I have ever seen. But really, the Ko'olau Mountains were the perfect backdrop to this quiet, but huge cemetery. You can drive and see all these temples, but we only had time to see one. The Byodo-In Temple was built in honor of the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii. When we parked and got to the bridge there is a small booth where you have to pay a $3 entrance fee. Remember how we already spent that $$ on the shaved ice? I said, "oh man, we don't have cash. Do you take card?" And the big polynesian man who was eating his breakfast said, "Just the two of you, go ahead". I almost bowed and said thank you, we were at a Japanese temple after all. We took some pictures, didn't have time to go in and then made our way on to Laie.

The whole drive is along the coastline and so look to your left, beautiful mountains, look to your right, gorgeous ocean. Its so scenic. All the homes were beach like, where the house is built above, and you park your card underneath. The road is RIGHT next to the ocean to its so fun to be so close. The area is a bit more run down -- but not in an ugly way. And I think the juxtaposition of the Laie Temple with its surroundings is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. The landscape was so manicured (but duh, it was the Temple!), and it was so peaceful -- most temples are in busy locations, and this was just in the small quaint town. BYU-Hawaii was fun to drive through -- we kept saying, "why didn't we come to BYU-Hawaii!"

Our next stop was the Polynesian Culture Center. An absolute MUST SEE AND DO activity. I was probably the only person in the whole state of Hawaii that was wearing pants that day, but I did not dare let my sunburnt legs see the sun. My legs had swollen up so much from trying to heal my sunburn (a common side affect of really bad burns), it was kinda tough to wear pants, but I didn't want another burn. Sorry -- I'm done talking about my sunburnt it was just half traumatizing.

The first thing we did at the PCC was take a canoe ride around the place, they are every 10 mins or so and we just wanted to get a feel for the place. Holy smokes its huge and there is so much to see and do in such little time. I wish we had a guide, but we don't have that kind of $$. One helpful thing was downloading the PCC app, and it sends you a notification about 5 minutes before an event so you can make your way there if you want to participate. What you'll spend your most time doing is going to the six villages which represent Polynesian islands, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji. Each islands have performances (song and dancing, story telling, informational tour, etc) throughout the day and peppered throughout are mini activities/classes like: how to make coconut oil, basket weaving, tapa making demonstration, tour of a chiefs house, etc).

We learned so much about these cultures, traditions, lifestyle, but most of all their innate power of family that is embedded in each of their cultures. I wish we as a society had more that we passed down to our posterity that linked all the generations together like the Polynesian's do.

We participated in the Luau meal and night show -- PCC totally rocked.

Do you see the guy on the tree?

Some takeaways: 
- Eat at Seven Brothers (really close to BYU-H), it has the VERY best fries I've ever ate in my life
- Definitely pay the extra money to do the Luau and Night show, totally worth it.
- Wear SPF 1000000
- If your Luau is at 4pm (like ours) you'll have about an hour and a half before the night show, and during that time they have a shuttle that will take you to the Temple

Happy mothers day

Saturday, May 20, 2017

I need to interrupt this Hawaii tour to take a minute and honor my mom for mothers day (6 days late!).

Mother's day is pretty special because I love spending the time thinking about how much my mom has influenced my life. I couldn't stop saying mini prayers throughout the day thanking Heavenly Father for letting me come to my family and have my mom and dad as parents.

I was talking to some co-workers recently and they said, "You are such a good employee, you must have the best mother ever, she did something right." They were right -- I do have the best mother!

I made this video as a tribute to my mom and the 40+ years of mothering she has endured so patiently and gracefully. I of course left out all the moments where I was crying -- but even if they were included, you would have seen my mom there, holding, consoling, and comforting. It is unbelievably remarkable all that my mother has done, does, and will do even with her physical challenges of polio. She is one awesome lady!

Day 2 & 3 | Hanauma Bay & Waikiki

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Can we all agree that Hawaii has the best names for every city, place, town, bay, restaurant, okay, everything?

Wednesday morning we headed to Hanauma Bay, the main hub in O'ahu for snorkeling. Although each place we went was around a 30 minute drive, I didn't even mind it. I love passing through different towns in Hawaii and see the ocean from the road. Guys, I'm telling you, this place is gorgeous.

When we arrived at the entrance to Hanauma Bay, the parking lot was full, and security gaurds directed us to residential areas for parking. We found a nearby neighbor to park in, but ended up walking about a mile or so (up and downhill, with Jocelyn and all of our beach stuff in the wagon) to eventually get to the bay. I know you're wondering, so yes, Hudson made the whole walk on hot asphalt barefoot. It costs $7.50 to get in, you watch an informational video and can rent snorkeling gear. Luckily, Meredith saved us big money and had gear for us. At first it may seem that Hanauma Bay is over crowded, but that is just on the sand, not in the water. I hardly saw anyone near us as we swam. Meredith told us the only way to see fish was going near the sides of the water near the rocks or the middle but much farther in the water. We wore H20 masks which in my opinion is SO much better than the typical snorkeling mouthpiece. You put it on and just breathe completely normal. Sigh of relief. I don't think I could have handled the pressure of figuring out the mouthpiece and trying not to freak out that there are fish RIGHT NEXT to me. In the end I had so much fun, and since we would go out in like 30 minute increments, each time got better.

That day we got scorched. Literally. I didn't think to put sunscreen on my legs -- and as a result, got water blisters on my left leg, read that as, I got a second degree burn. I paid for it in pain the next day. And then everyday after that I bathed and bathed myself in sunscreen.

After about 3-4 hours at Hanauma Bay, we packed up, walked the mile mostly uphill and went to Sophies for some delicious pizza. Sophie's was literally a two minute drive from Hanauma Bay and I totally recommend it. They make guava infused crust, so its got a slight pink hue to it, and use cashew cream sauce. And if you're thinking that sounds weird and gross, well, then you haven't tried it yet, because you would think differently once you have. Meredith is the best host/tour guide ever!

Meredith then dropped us off in Waikiki where we stayed at a hotel for one night. Meredith told us Waikiki was the Las Vegas of Hawaii. She was right. I think everyone needs to see Waikiki and spend some time there, but I would NEVER recommend staying your whole time there,You will leave with sunburns and an empty wallet.

I really should have done some better research before I purchase hotels -- because $80 will buy you a hotel with an alley way view (no joke, we stared at a cement wall), a mattress comparable to a thin pad on the floor, a swamp cooler that is louder than a tractor, and baby cockroaches that will make a cameo appearance in your bathroom while you brush your teeth. Classy. But did I mention the 40 inch screen tv. I was going to say, they invest in their TV's so you are in good hands -- but you're in Hawaii so why would you be turning on the TV anyways?

That night, we walked all around Waikiki -- its kinda of a maze, with alot of rich asians, who don't even care about the beach, but care about getting the very best selfie with them and the ocean. Think of all the brand stores you would never walk in because you can't afford even the damaged items. Well, Waikiki has all of them. We did get to walk around at the perfect time -- that glowing sunset and perfect temperature. After walking over a mile we sat down and I was craving some shaved ice. I looked on my phone and found a place that was closing in 20 minutes (typical Hawaii, everything shuts down at 7pm). And it was half a mile away in the more residential area. So we booked it, and arrived minutes before it closed. Second thing you have to know about Hawaii is they don't take debit or credit card hardly ANYWHERE. Come on, we are in 2017 people. Get with it. They had a cash only sign and we only had $5, so we were forced to get the smallest item. We sat down at the wobbliest table without knowing it, and the entire shaved ice dome we had just purchase with our last bill of cash, toppled all over the table. I furiously began scooping it up with my hands, I almost went as far as to eat it up directly off the table, but for everyone's sake refrained. Let me share a YouTube clip from The Office that depicts PERFECTLY what we experienced.

We spent the next hour walking around trying to find a real place to eat -- specifically a restaurant where 1 plate was under $17, but we were unsuccessful, and instead settled on a footlong from Subway. Because you know, when in Waikiki...try Subway! We got back to our hotel, with our Subway in silence and I sat on the floor and ate. We had such a fun day, I was asleep by 9pm. I'm like the most fun travel buddy ever. Pay me to come on your next travel excursion and I'll make sure to go to bed at an unreasonably early hour!

The next morning, with high hopes for our last hours in Waikiki, we walked around, and found a McDonalds. You know why... because we were in WAIKIKI! duh! While walking around we found an Army Museum, with a line of people waiting outside. We wondered why, and then a few minutes later, this old man in a Hawaiian shirt comes rolling in on his Jazzy to unlock the door. We walked through it -- 30 minutes is all you need. We walked on the pier of the beach right behind it. Took in our last deep breaths of Waikiki and went back to our hotel where checked out and took a Lyft ride (kinda like a taxi that you prepay for) back to Meredith's house. Obviously, we (or maybe just I) were a bit too anxious to see the kids again. That afternoon we cleaned the William's car and made dinner and hung around. Bryan made us his German chocolate cake too.

Some Take Aways:
- Go EARLY to Hanauma Bay to get a parking spot
- Pretend you have albino skin and lather on the sunscreen, every half hour just to be safe
- Consider paying more than $80 for a hotel. :)
- If I did Waikiki all over again, i'd go to a grocery store first and buy some food so we wouldn't have to eat at the restaurants.
- If you've got time, there is a really cool hike near Hanauma Bay called Kuilouou Ridge Trail (we did it on a different day), or Koko head (we didn't have time to do this one, but when President Obama visited Hawaii, he did this one).

Day 1 : Pearl Harbor & Lanikai Hike/Beach

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A while back, Bronson and I decided to use our tax return to make a trip out to Hawaii to visit my sister Meredith and her family. This became our "tax return - before we have kids - have to go visit my sister - once in a lifetime" type of trip, and now, after returning home, I am so glad we went. It was so much fun. 

I wanted to share bits and pieces of what we did so I don't forget myself. And while we only had seven days on the island -- I feel the variety of things we did helped us to get a taste for what this island has to offer. 

We departed SLC 5pm to San Francisco and then to Honolulu arriving 3am our time and 11pm Hawaii time. Meredith told us to sleep in, but I was so excited to see the kids, I woke up at 5:15am waiting for them to get up. To give you an idea, I'm the person that waits in bed for as long as possible before I have to get up -- so when I say I was excited, I was really excited. 

We got to send the kids off to school at the bus stop. Cute Christian hugs everyone goodbye, then gets in line for the bus, and yells, "I forgot kisses!" And hurries and run back to his mom to get a few kisses. 

Tuesday morning we spent some time at Pearl Harbor touring the USS Bowfin submarine and the USS Arizona Memorial. 

Pearl Harbor, Honolulu

Look! they even had kitchen aids back then! 

I reallly like my queen size bed. 

USS Arizona Memorial

Remains of the USS Arizona

Some take aways: 
- Go early so you get a parking spot & get early tickets for the ferry ride to visit the Arizona Memorial. We arrived at 10am and the earliest ferry ride was 1pm. 
- The submarine tour is $12.50 which gives you a narrated tour of the submarine and access to the submarine museum with a narrated tour. 
- We spent about 3.5 hours there and felt that was sufficient. We packed a lunch so we didn't have to pay $12 for a hotdog haha

Lanikai Hike & Beach

This is the perfect hike to do before you go to the beach. From the road, Meredith pointed to where we would be hiking and I about died it looked so high. But then you start and realize you're hiking at sea level and not Utah's elevation.... ahh.... so nice on the lungs. 

This hike was about 1.5 hours roundtrip. And if you think you can't do it, well, let me tell you that my 4 year old nephew, Hudson, did it all by himself, and shoeless too on burning hot rocks. 

This hike gave you all the postcard perfect views. You see the rich beachfront neighborhood and the two islands out in the distance. The water is crystal blue and the sand was pretty coarse which I was not expecting Hawaii's sand to be like. It was a smaller beach which I liked. We parked on a residential road that was halfway between the beach and halfway between the starting point of the hike. 

Some take aways: 
- Parking is sparse in Hawaii. When you find something, just take it. 
- Most Hawaiian locals will wear flip flops for hikes, or even barefoot, but I found hiking shoes to be helpful. 
- Not a shaded hike, so bring sunscreen and lots of water. No restrooms. 
- Climb on the pillbox to get your most liked picture on instagram yet! ;)

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