Jess went to her first "real" haunted house tonight. Her Girl Scout Troop went to the Children's Museum for the Eerie Express. Apparently it did not go over well. She said "next year I want to go to the Friendly Fright."
We took a trip to the pumpkin patch on Thursday. Jess was on Fall Break and daddy got home a little early. We decided to give a new place (for us) at try. There were slides, bouncers and other fun stuff for the kiddos. Of course the corn mazes; we gave each one (easy, medium, difficult) a try. Then the tractor out to the pumpkin field. The kiddos were more interested in trying to make nests in the straw. Surprisingly, we had pumpkins picked pretty quickly. Saturday was carving day. Jess and Brandon designed AND carved their pumpkins. They wanted help with getting the pumpkin goo out.
Ok, I think I might rethink how to blog out the rest of the vacation...At this rate, I think I could make a whole day of trying to post 6 days of vacation. How about I tell you about it now and maybe add a flickr page link or slideshow? Fair enough?
Oh, and just for the record, the GPS rental... worth it!
So we ventured out in search of the beach. According to our map we were really close to Punalu'u Black sand beach. It took us no time at all to find it. And yep, it is black. This area is know for its sea turtles that come to nest or just relax on the beach. We saw probably half dozen of them. We also wanted to see the green sand beach. Seriously, who knew that sand came in assorted colors?? tourist. So on the lookout for green sand, we headed to Ka Lae. This is not only the southern most point of the islands, but also of the US. Oh, but first we stopped at the Punalu'u Bake Shop for a little snack... (southern most bakery in the US...surprise!) So we found South Point about 12 miles (south) off the main road. Apparently if you have made it this far, you have to hike to the beach. Rough, rocky and windy. We did find where people still fish off the cliff. About 40-50feet down swinging latters fisherman cast nets. We continued on. And on. And on. While we did get some great pictures (surprise) of the open sea and crashing waves, we did not find the green sand beach.
Monday, we headed back into Hilo. We had signed up for a helicoptor tour. What was I thinking? I don't really care for heights, so good idea, going in a helicoptor over a volcano. Sitting next to the door. Figures that I wouldn't be sat in the middle. Steve, disappointed that he didn't get the window seat. Really this was quite an adventure. Nevermind my headset was not working and I had not a clue of any of the details of our trip. But each outting is recorded and we received a free DVD of our flight. We went around the top of the crater, could see the actual lava flow and the trees that were burning. According to the pilot, a "house" was no longer visible that he had seen on an earlier flight that morning. He used the word house rather loosely in that it may not have been livable, but merely a structure. We also saw waterfalls and Hilo bay. One of the other passengers was from the cruise ship docked there.
Tuesday we went to Kona. It is about a 2 hour drive for us from the cottage. It is more "touristy" on this side. Also, the site of the Ironman endurance contest. We missed it by a couple of days. We spent the day exploring and shopping for souvenirs for the kiddos. Off all things, my crazy girl wanted a dashboard Hula girl.
Wednesday we took another tour. This was to the Mauna Kea summit. This was pretty cool. As an added extra, our tour guide is the owner of the company. We were taken to the visitors center at about 9000 feet and had dinner. Then to about 11,000ft. We were just about the clouds at this point. And finally to more than 13,000ft, where we watched the sunset.
Thursday was another day of exploring. While we were on an island, we just couldn't seem to find just a "plain ol beach." The kind you find driving anywhere in Florida, stop anywhere and go to the beach. But we did find a thermal pool. Ahhh. It was warm like bathwater. We also found the tide pools. They were NOT warm like bathwater. But we took the snorkel gear. I did not stay in too long, but Steve was all about. All colors of fish! I didn't believe him at first. And was surprised at all the ones I saw for the short distance I went in.
Friday was going to be our easy day. We planned on going to the Volcanoes National Park to explore for a while, then chill out at the cottage and get our stuff packed up and ready to go home. That didn't happen. When we arrived, the rangers were talking about the lava flow that was outside of park boundaries. So we did visit the park; driving down the Chain of Craters Road to the ocean. And back up... We went back to the cottage for blue jeans and flashlights so we could go on the nightwalk to see the lava flow. While this was something that we hadn't planned on, it was definately worth it! Amazing!
Saturday was flying day. It was noon Sunday when we walked in the front door. It was good to be home. And the sqeals of the kiddos when Grandma and Grandpa brought them home were music to my ears. She loved her Hula girl. He loved his volcano shirt.
This is the cottage that we stayed for the rest of our vacation. "Adorable" keeps coming to mind, but I don't think that really fits. You can tell the the owners really love this little house. They are a very pleasant couple. I had spoken with each of them in the planning/scheduling process.
We (again) have lots and lots of pictures of the grounds and flowers. There are lemon, lime and grapefruit trees. Steve had grapefruit every morning with breakfast. There are also banana trees, but it looks like they won't be in season until later in November. At least from the journal entries that we read from previous visitors. So many beautiful flowers that I just don't know the names of. Snorkel gear and beach towels were available to us; which we used later in the week. Thanks to Tom and Missy.
Our first day, we pretty much took it easy. We went back into town after moving in. We picked up a few groceries for breakfast and to be able to pack lunch for day trips. And of course lots of water.
On this day, we celebrated our 10th anniversary. There have been so many times that I have wondered how in the world has 10 years gone by? I suppose time does fly when you have fun! Since we had spent many months (seriously) in planning our "little" vacation, Steve had asked several times what I wanted for a gift. Ummm- I thought this "little" getaway was enough. He apparently had other ideas and surprised me with a lovely bracelet. Boy, I guess it was a good thing I splurged and bought 2 cards for him!
We drove to the north shore of Oahu to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center (http://www.polynesia.com/). It was lots of fun. There are seven different areas, each representing a different island. It is beautiful. We visited a few of the areas, but wanted to make sure that we were back to the canal in time to see the canoe parade. Visited more areas on our way to the IMAX theater for a show on the ocean and coral reefs. Then it was time for dinner! Dinner was served in a buffet style complete with pig cooked in a traditional imu. We had several items that we new to us. AND tried at least a bite of everything. We are Mr. and Mrs. Picky-eater.
Unfortunately, we didn't get as many pictures here as we would have liked. (gasp!) We managed to leave the camera disk with the laptop when downloading Thursdays pictures. The gift shop did have the disk type we needed, but much much smaller size. Something is better than nothing, right? After dinner was our show. It was really something! I'm sure that the few pictures I've attached just don't do justice.
I really have been trying to get some of our trip documented. Really. I did get the pictures put in the album yesterday- during Brandon's gymnastics class. Multitasking? I think so.
Alrighty, we started by flying out on Wednesday morning (the 8th) with a 9:00 flight. The whole idea of being at the airport early for all the checkpoints, but I didn't have to get up at too much of a crazy time. Off to a good start already. We flew to Dallas/Ft. Worth with a connecting flight onto Honolulu. We really didn't have much of a layover at all. We arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule (yippee!) at 2:30 Hawaii time (HST). That would be 8:30 for you and me. We had made a last minute decision to go ahead and rent a car for the couple days that we would be in Honolulu. It only seemed to make sense when we check out the prices compared to the shuttle price for the couple of places we knew we would visit. It just seemed silly not to get our own car. After we found our hotel, we hit the beach right away. We had lots of shops to check out and plenty of choices for dinner. We shared appetizers at Tiki's Bar and Grill (http://www.tikisgrill.com/) and browsed the shops afterward. I think by this time the time difference had caught up with me. So even though it was still pretty early by Hawaii standards, I was ready for sleep! And we planned on being up early the next day to head to Pearl Harbor.
Thursday our plan was to visit not only Pearl Harbor, but also the Might Mo and the USS Bowfin. Anything that you read and friends that had been to Pearl tell you to get there EARLY! I think it was around 8:30 when we arrived and they were already handing out tickets for the 10:00 shuttle to the Memorial. This allowed us plenty time to walk around the visitors center. We rented the headsets. Well worth the $5 each. We definately don't go the same pace to try sharing. Before you actually head over to the Memorial, there is a short movie to view first. Sort of a "leading up to" type of thing. I think the beauty of the Memorial is its simplicity. There is only the one entrance, it is all open in the middle and the area on the opposite end seemed to me the most important. On the wall opposite the door is full of all the names of the sailors and soldiers that went down with their ship. And another small monument of survivors that upon their death were intombed with their shipmates. After we returned to the visitors center, we had a few more items to listen to for our audio tour. Most of them were outside and it was a beautiful day. We then headed down the road to the USS Bowfin. "Pearl's Avenger" I believe she was called. We were able to tour thru the sub. It was very interesting. Not only respecting our sailors, but a new found respect for those that gave/give their service from under the sea. We took a (free) shuttle to the USS Missouri. This ship was where the surrender was signed. There is even a bronze medallion to show exactly where. We also toured thru a good portion of the ship. A small city really. It is difficult to image life as a sailor. Lastly, we went to Ford's Island. This is still an active military base, but one of the hangars has been converted into a museum. It was all very interesting. We loved being able to get up close to see these Navy vessels.
We have made it back to the mainland... I will get to work on a more detailed post soon (and include pictures) but I am still trying to get everything else back to "normal." But in any case, we had a great time! We left on Wednesday, the 8th to fly to Honolulu, then inter-island flight on Saturday, the 11. We spent the week in an adorable cottage before leaving to fly home on Saturday the 18th. It was Sunday, noon before we walked in the door.
How exactly do we tell you thank you for just being you? My friend, my husband and a daddy. The best kind! You put us above everything else. I love that you always have a smile. I love that you always call to tell the kids "love you and goodnight" when you are out of town. I love that you don't mind helping with housework or giving the kids their bath. I love that you put the kids to bed at night. They love it too.
There is so much more that I could put here, but how to find just the right words? But I guess more than any other,
...the laundry to be done ...Daddy's BIRTHDAY tomorrow ...the dog to go on "vacation" to Tina's ...the kids suitcases to be packed ...our suitcases to get packed ...the kids to spend lots and lots of days at Grandma and Grandpa's (I hope they are ready!) ...our VACATION! ...time just for us ...our 10th Anniversary
But I think right now, we better go get ready for dinner!