Hawaii!!

A couple weeks ago, I went to Hawaii!  I’ve always wondered why people fly halfway around the world to go to a beach, and now I know why.

Because it’s amazing!  The landscape is incredible, the water is SO BLUE and there is so much to do.  It really should be on your bucket list if it’s not already.

Mom took my new sister-in-law, Hannah, and me on a girls’ trip to celebrate my 35th birthday and to simply have fun.  She even got us all matching tank tops, flower clips for our hair and leis to wear on the plane. My mom has flown for United for 39 years (!!!), and we got the last three seats on the flight from Dulles to Honolulu.  Flying Space-A (“space available,” as in, if there aren’t open seats on the plane, you don’t go) always stresses me out, so I was thankful our journey started well.

Flying to Honolulu Thursday (which is on Oahu) was actually ‘Plan B.’  (Plan A was to fly from DC to LA on Friday, spend the night, then try to get on a flight to Kauai first-thing the next morning.) Our timeshare didn’t start for another two days on Kauai, but the earlier flight looked better, so we booked a room at the Navy Lodge near Pearl Harbor for two nights.  When we arrived at the Navy Lodge, located on Ford Island, a chopper was landing right in front of us!  Really makes me miss my time in the Air Force…

We were all so thankful we ended up on Oahu first.  We were able to see the USS Arizona, USS Missouri, and ‘Battleship Row,’ which is located in the harbor around Ford Island.  We were actually able to walk from the Navy Lodge!

Despite a temporary shut-down of the actual memorial (due to instability of the dock attached to the Arizona), our narrated tour of the harbor was still excellent.

While on Oahu, we hiked up Diamond Head, a giant crater that used to be used by the military as a look-out. The pill boxes are still there.

While on Oahu, we spent time on Waikiki Beach and got to see my mom’s cousin, Chris.  They hadn’t seen each other in 25 years, and we ended up doing dinner with him both nights.  She really enjoyed catching up with him.  We also did A LOT of walking and bus riding!  We didn’t have a rental car, so we had to walk 1.8 miles from the Navy Lodge, across and LONG-A$% bridge and down the main highway to reach a bus stop, which would then take almost AN HOUR to reach Waikiki!  So many stops.  But, we saved a ton of cash by using public transportation, even if we were falling asleep and freezing on the bus at the end of the night.

Two days later, we headed back to the airport and crossed our fingers we’d get on a flight over to Kauai, where our timeshare was located. My parents had been with my brothers a few years earlier and loved it, and I like going places my mom has been and enjoys.  I find I tend to prefer being the sidekick, as opposed to the one running the show, when traveling.

We got on–all in the same row–and landed 30 minutes later.  What I noticed right away was how rural the island was, and how much the topography changed as we drove around.  Lihue, where the airport is located, is toward the southeastern end of the island, and we were staying way up north in Princeville.  Just like Oahu, it takes A LONG TIME to get anywhere on the island because there is only one road.  After getting the rental car and hitting up Costco for lunch and groceries, we started the drive north.  We saw palm trees, beaches, wooded areas and tall grass.  Part of the time I felt like I was in Avatar with tall canopies of trees overhead.

My first run the next morning was beautiful! So many good views.  So much sweat.  Of course, I had to wear my EA Runners shirt so I could post a photo.

On a rainy day, we drove south to Poipu Beach (the northern end of the island gets upwards of 400 inches of rain a year!) and enjoyed swimming and snorkeling there.

We’d brought (tuna packets, hummus, salsa, pretzels) or bought (fish, brown rice, asparagus, salad, trail mix, WINE) most of our food and packed our lunches every day.  I cooked marlin and ahi tuna a couple nights in the room, which was a lot easier than I anticipated since our condo was so well equipped.

Our condo clubhouse had movies you could check-out, and they kept all the ones filmed on Kauai behind the counter.  While we were there, we watched all three original Jurassic Park movies, Moana (not filmed, per se, but certainly inspired) and The Descendants.  It was so neat to recognize the places on the big screen that we were visiting. (Note the lei on the corner of the television, below!)

The next day was rainy, so we decided to make it a hiking day.  On the way to Waimea Canyon, we stopped so many times for photos.

After eating lunch in the car, we started our very wet, very slippery hike to the summit, obscured by clouds below:

From there, we hiked down and to the left (in the photo above), to reach some small falls. It was a great workout, a little scary, and entirely beautiful.

On the way back, we stopped for shave ice!  It’s SO MUCH BETTER than our snow cones here.  I wish we’d gone back for a second the next night!

On Hanalei Bay, up on our end of the island, we spent a day sunning and paddle boarding.  Mom loves to paddle board at home and took the board out twice.  Once was enough for me!  The wind and current was so hard to fight against; most of the time I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere!

Our biggest adventure of the trip–by far–was kayaking the Na’Poli Coast.  The northwest section of the island is only visible by sea and air, and some hiking.  It’s also famous for being featured in Jurassic Park.  We got up at 4:30 am to make it to the pick-up at 6 am, then drove an hour and a half to Polihale, where our kayaking began.  It was a full day of paddling and we saw dolphins, a sea lion and her baby, and I snorkeled right above a sea turtle! For the first 6 miles, the wind and current were against us, and I was paddling like crazy to keep up with the guide.  Thankfully, mom got lots of photos through her waterproof phone bag, since she was in the guide’s kayak!  We kayak-surfed on the way back, with the wind and waves helping us along.

I love the ‘blurred’ action shot below!  We were so exhausted that by 8:30 pm that night, we were all in bed with the lights out!

The following day was my last, and we spent it at the resort pool (it was overcast, anyway), doing a little souvenir shopping in Kapaa (mom and I *almost* pierced our noses!) and another walk along the beach.  I’m hoping to bring Andrew for a combo relax/adventure/learn-to-surf trip sometime soon!

I left a day early so I could get to Andrew’s cousin’s wedding in Indianapolis.  My epic journey by air began at 11 pm Thursday Kauai time and ended with me landing in Indy at 12:30 am Saturday.  Three flights and two LONG-A#$ layovers left me one super tired girl.  BUT, my other brother, Aaron, met me at the Atlanta airport so we could have dinner!  He’s 23, working in the film industry there as a videographer (???) with special effects and graphics, and recently moved into a house with a roommate.  He looks just like Chris Pratt and it cracks me up.  It was definitely my highlight on the way back.

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