Monday, December 14, 2015

I've been dreaming of Hawaii

I've been dreaming of Hawaii pretty much since I was a little girl! A prolific childhood sunset & palm tree artist, these two beauties of nature captured me from the earliest stages of my life. 
Today that dream became a reality! 
Here is my Hawaii story to be continued this week:)

Day 1-Dec 9th

After many years of trying to get to Hawaii, we were actually on a plane to these fabled islands! We had planned to go to Hawaii for our 20th anniversary, but ended up moving to north Texas for a job which turned out badly (we came home 2 years later!) Our 25th anniversary was the next goal, however two children decided to get married that year, so funds were wedding tight! Fast-forward to now 33 years of wedded bliss and a little conflict… hahaha... 
Here we are making my little girl dream come true!

Looking out the window across the vast ocean & sky makes me marvel at the miracle of flight!..and that I am still a bit nervous flying over that vast ocean:)

Glad to be out of the "concrete jungle" airport area which looked nothing like I imagined!... these tree lined streets in Honolulu made me smile:)

Walking through Ala Moana beach park & Magic Island and sitting on a bench at sunset with Honolulu in our view was the perfect ending to a first day in paradise! 
I am in Hawaii!

Day 2-Dec 10th
Adjusting to the time change might take a few days...Michael was up at 2:30 am and me at 4am! We headed out early hoping to beat the crowds at Pearl Harbor only to find google maps sent us an hour out of the we re-grouped and headed to the north shore. Our first stop of the day was to walk the beautiful grounds of the Laie Hawaii Temple. The spectacular palm tree lined entrance was breathtaking!

Our next adventure was at Pipeline (on the north shore) a beach famous for big waves perfect for surfing competitions. Lucky for us, today was such a day and we attended our very first and probably only ever surfing tournament! We felt like the "cool kids" on the block:)

Headed back to the car, it really was quite impossible to walk past fresh crepes being made on the street by French guys...especially when Nutella was involved:) Delicious! 

The Dole plantation was next on the agenda today after passing acres and acres of baby pineapple plants. It takes 20 months before a plant begins producing. There are 28,000 plants all put in the ground by hand each new growing season! The ground is perfect for growing pineapples because of the volcanic ash which is high in iron, and the mild temperatures make Hawaii the world leader in pineapple! FYI-this place is pretty much a tourist trap with a lame train ride through fields that had already been harvested:-] Should have gone to the Dole cannery!

After a yummy and high calorie meal at Terry's Burgers (which has rave reviews on trip advisor) back in Honolulu, we walked off a few of those calories with a brisk walk to Wakiki beach along the marina. Some of the boats had a festive show of Christmas lights! I must admit Christmas decorations look a bit out of place here in tropical paradise:) 

Day 3-December 11th
 Pali Lookout

What a beautiful beginning to our day! The Pali lookout over Honolulu was breathtaking, bringing tears to my eyes for the privilege of this experience. The feeling here was peaceful and serene high above the crowded and bustling city of Honolulu. With the view and the wind gently blowing through the trees I could have stayed here for hours drinking in the beauty.

Our next stop was such a contrast. We were in search of a mid- morning snack stopping at one of the few places along this road on the east shore. This establishment reeked of tourism at it's worst with workers suspiciously following your every move, ridiculously high prices. and the feeling that they wanted your money but heartily disliked you all the same. I did however find the hula Santa amusing:)

The next adventure found us greeted by an ancient Hawaiian couple honored in statue form, the ancestors of this macadamia farm family. It was inspiring to read about their lives of generosity, service and love to those around them. This great spirit of the Hawaiian people at large could be felt here with all of the staff and the owner. We had an authentic moment as we cracked a macadamia nut with a rock surrounded by chickens waiting to pounce on said nut! I felt like a "city girl" since I had never considered the origin of the nicely shelled macadamia nuts I buy in attractive packages off the store shelf:)

I was so very excited to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center! I love experiencing the history and ancient cultural practices of a place...I was not disappointed! Authentic villages with cultural presentations including dancing, singing, starting fires with sticks, cooking banana's, throwing spears, and my favorite...coconut tree climbing in the Samoan village. We witnessed an ancient Tahitian wedding, canoe pageant, and everyone's favorite, the haka:)

We ended the day at the PCC attending a luau complete with roasted pig, taro rolls (a nice shade of lavender) fresh pineapple and scores of tribal dances....what a feast both in food and cultural entertainment! They called anniversary & honeymoon couples on stage where we shared our home state and years of marriage, we came in second with 33 years after a 44 year union! The hostess then had us dance to the Hawaiian love song:) We couldn't be more happy with our visit to the Polynesian Cultural center!

Day 4-December 12th
Pearl Harbor was on my must see list. A reverent and respectful feeling accompanied our boat ride out to the USS Arizona memorial. I remember when I got my oldest son notice of draft age in the mail...the thought that he could be called up was frightening. The wall of names of those 900 young men who died in this ship filled me with sorrow and deep gratitude for the sacrifice of all servicemen who have lost their lives in defense of this great country. 

Day 5-December 13th
Welcome Sabbath!

What a gorgeous Sabbath morning here in Lahaina, Maui. We began the day with church service. Each of the speakers began with an enthusiastic Aloha! The congregation would answer back with an equally exuberant Aloha! Singing Christmas hymns and hearing messages on faith was an inspiring way to begin another day in paradise:) 

After church we came to the conclusion that since we were on vacation we could take the morning off from touring and relax with a book:) There is a bit of urgency when one spends so much for a vacation...resting seems a bit wrong when there is so much to see;-}
A sea turtle feeding near by added a some excitement to our time on the beach. 

Hunger drove us off the beach and we found Terry's Bigger Burgers again:) We shared a grilled pineapple and avocado burger with cheese fries and an oreo shake...a major culinary indiscretion! We did however burn a fraction of those delicious calories with our next adventure, climbing down to the Nakalele blow hole near the ocean on the north side of Maui. Michael so patiently held my hand climbing down the rocks as I am a climbing sissy who is afraid of heights...he on the other hand is a mountain goat! The volcanic rock is interesting and beautiful in the light.

The blow hole was exciting if you were patient and waited for a "good one"... I was mortified when a "good one" came & I was in the way of a lady who had been waiting to take a picture..yikes:-{ 
Luckily she got her picture a few minutes later...phew:)

See those dark rocks down at the ocean below... That is where we climbed up from the blow hole...the children will be proud of the momma... hahaha

Day 6-December 14th
After piddling around most of the morning trying to decide what to do...yes we (mostly Michael) are those kind of travelers:-/ We decided to drive down the west coast of Maui. Our first stop was a whale watching overlook. Way out there between those two specks (which are boats) we did see at least 3 whales surface briefly. Too far away to get on camera, it was still a thrill:)

Lunch was decided by google and trip advisor:) The couple who own and daily work the Big Beach BBQ truck have been here many years because "it is so fun!" The bbq pulled pork sliders were delicious, as was the grilled pineapple. They had a cute dog named Bully who loved playing soccer with Michael. He discovered after one kick by me, to only take the ball to Michael...cheeky devil!

After lunch we had a long and lovely walk down Big Beach, quite happy with the overcast skies:) The beaches are quite steep and the surf is strong! The volcanic rock around the edges add a beautiful texture. I must say these beaches here are quite different from our home beach of Galveston, with it's brown Mississippi mud water, and seaweed strewn beach!

Back in the car, we left the coastline for a drive to the middle of Maui. Since Michael is the only authorized rental car driver I get to enjoy being chauffeured and take in all the scenery:) A sucker for trees these beauty's can be seen crossing over the road in several places on the island. 

When Michael read about our next stop Iao Needle, we thought okay...a big rock. After experiencing the majesty of this site we changed our attitude:) This state Park was full of lush deep green foliage, awash in gentle rain and had a fast moving crystal clear stream at the bottom of the valley. Even though we can see images of anywhere in the world on Google, I think we humans still long for the "feeling" and spirit of a place...that was the lesson Iao Needle park taught us today:) 

Right outside the Iao Needle park we pulled over for the magnificent specimen...can you tell I love trees? Impressive vines reaching to the ground...I will never complain about pulling my wimpy vines out of the landscaping again:)

Day 7-December 15th
Last day in paradise!
I walked around the resort this morning taking pictures of my favorite views. Napali Shores has been around since 1972. It is exceptionally well maintained, the grounds are gorgeous, and the rooms huge! We did have a momentary panic when we walked in the room and couldn't find the thermostat. Oh...this is Hawaii, they don't really need air conditioning. We were just fine:) 
Another interesting thing was the palm tree trim guys that came one day. The palm trees are trimmed every 4-5 months so the coconuts don't get big and fall on people or cars. Seems a shame to have all of those lovely coconuts go to waste, of course I wouldn't feel that way if one fell on my head!

I was really in love with these trees covering the parking lot, and below is my very favorite view of our resort's beach area. This is why I wanted to come to Hawaii:)

Next adventure was driving 28 miles up to the Halakeal crater 10,000+ feet above sea level. The roads were hairpin switchbacks with no guard rails...I was a bit edgy:) For Texans who only live 24 feet above sea level this was quite the deal! Michael drove slowly and carefully for me. I asked him if he would have more fun driving this road without me. He grinned and said "Probably!"

For this next picture be impressed with how close I am standing to the's not a shear drop but still impressive for me:) By the way it was cold up here above the clouds!

You know those expensive potted poinsettias we all buy a Christmas? Well here they are growing wild along side a Maui highway:) I also loved the purple grasses along the road.

Next stop, a favorite surfing beach for the young and brave. From our lookout point there were loads of little bodies and surf boards all trying to ride the next big wave:)

A very friendly local (sort of) guy (originally from Ireland) told us about a stretch of beach where turtles could be seen. We searched but no turtles. We were rewarded for our efforts with an amazing view of a rainbow. Rainbows are very frequent here!

I was sitting on this rock almost a bit teary to leave this most pleasing spot of earth. This trip has been everything I dreamed of and more. 

One final thing was on my agenda....draw a heart in the sand. Such a simple gesture that represents 33 years of ups and downs, joy and trials, successes and failures...together and individually in this thing we call marriage. I keep thinking about the couple we saw in a restaurant here a few days ago. They were celebrating his 89th birthday. She was 86 and they had been married for 69 years. Michael and I still have a long road least we hope so:)

The Maui airport is open to the outside! Makes me laugh...can you imagine the Houston airposti with no ac! No worries about safety...there is a certain point where the Maui airport it is closed for security.

And here we are, back to where we began, on a plane.  I am still dreaming of Hawaii, but this time it is real! Sitting here beside my sweetie of 33 years. I do know that my paradise is with him and our children and grandchildren! Hawaii is so very beautiful, and if we never get to go back, the images of beaches and palm trees will be etched in my little girl dreamy heart forever:)