Thursday, November 18

Leaving Hawaii..…and entering…..

Spring 2003:May vacation 005 May vacation 004

January 2005:Hawaii 042

September 2010:


It’s that time again, time for us to say Good-Bye and fly away. Even though when we came here this time it was with the intention of staying and possibly homesteading, I always knew this time would come.

One thing always rings true: It’s much better to visit than to live 

Joey left the island in August to work in Colorado and the kids and I stayed behind to see how things played out. After a couple weeks it was obvious that we’d be leaving the island for good so the job of packing up the condo and kids fell on me. I was actually looking forward to being the sole discretionary person to decide what goes and what doesn’t, and normally I’m fighting to keep more than he is, yet somehow we left Hawaii with less than we even came with! I decided if we hauled it all the way to Hawaii and never even used it, it got canned. So with less stuff I figured I could handle checking everything on to the plane with us, paying extra baggage fees but saving hundreds in shipping fees. Then three hours before the shuttle was to pick us up I was in a stressful mess…….I couldn’t even get everything into the van let alone haul through an airport!

Joey’s friend, Fish, came by to save the day and offered to take the big stuff that I didn’t need right away to the post office and ship it for me, only leaving us 5 checked bags and 7 carry-on’s. I finally breathed a little easier once we were loaded into the shuttle, just to get to the airport to have to unload everything onto a rental cart, then load it onto the conveyer belt for agriculture inspection, then back on to the cart over to ticketing. There I had to unload the heavy bags, that were on the bottom, for weighing and tagging for check-in, then back on to the cart to take it over to the check-in belt. Then unload the cart once again to finally get them out of my hands, and of course put the carry-on’s back on the cart. And the stuff that didn’t fit on the cart, I had to carry. We haven’t even gotten to security yet.

Security, of course, was a nightmare. We must have used at least a dozen of those grey boxes and held up the line at least fifteen minutes. Aside from opening the laptops, they also had to double check the x-box  and controllers because, you know, they look like weapons.

When I booked the flight I didn’t think about the fact that it was a red eye, I just knew it was the cheapest. I actually figured, great! we’ll get to sleep the whole flight and be refreshed and eager to start the new day when we get to Phoenix for our connecting flight to Vegas. I’ve never been sooo wrong in my life! The kids were split up in seats in front of me and I was in a back row seat that wouldn’t lay back. It was stuck straight up and almost leaning forward! I wanted to cry…..again. But even worse the nice old couple next to me were stuck sitting straight up too and I just couldn’t handle that. So….after much debate I finally convinced the old couple to swap seats with Jake and Jewel in front of us so they could at least lean back and have a comfortable flight………. Then with Jake and Jewel beside me I was able to use them as a pillow :-) It was still a miserable flight and after what felt like twenty five hours we finally landed in Phoenix.

We only had forty five minutes to catch our connecting flight and we had to wait for everyone to un board so the stewardess could go to the cockpit and retrieve my hula hoop that I carried on the plane. THEN after making our way to the next flight I realized I had left my fanny pack (that I wore so I wouldn’t lose my most important things) in the magazine holder in front of my seat! The flight attendant wouldn’t let me back on the plane to get it so I had to wait another few minutes for them to take their sweet time to get it for me, and then she had the nerve to tell me…”well, that’s WHY you’re supposed to keep track of your stuff” REALLY?? I thought I did pretty good for not losing my kids at this point.

Somehow we made it through the huge airport to our connecting flight and finally felt everything was going to be alright. Flying over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead was awesome, so awesome that I finally pulled my camera out and snapped some pictures from the air. I text my cousin when we landed so she could head our way to get us, and we then hurried to find the baggage claim. I always try to be super efficient so tried to time my cousin getting there with the same time we’d be walking out the gate, so of course, that seems to put me in a state of stress and slight panic. The bags were taking forever, but we finally started seeing them, so Jake wisely says, “We should unload the cart so we can put the heavy bags on the bottom when they get here” Great idea! So I set my precious camera bag on one of the seats about five feet away and then unloaded the cart onto the ground right beside it. We then get all our big checked items, load them up, put the carry on’s on top, and walk out the gate just in time to see my cousin heading our way. See…my timing is impeccable. I’m so happy to see her after all these years, we hug, I cry, we get in the car and drive away.

A few hours later, at her place, I want to take pictures of everybody and we CANNOT find my camera bag anywhere. I call the airport and all I get is a recording saying they’ll call IF they find it. Amy offers to haul me all the way back to the airport, only to find it gone. GONE! My big camera, my favorite point and shoot, a panoramic camera, multiple lenses, and a laptop……all gone.

Only twenty four hours out of paradise and it felt like I landed in Hell.

Thursday, October 14

Bumper Stickers – Hawaiian Style

Droid 164

This is a popular bumper sticker we saw often on the North Shore. It’s the local’s way of saying they don’t want any more resorts, hotels, freeways, or apartment buildings built. Keep the country….Local!

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This one is probably even more common, Hawaiian Kingdom.

This homemade billboard is on somebody’s fence right along the Farrington Highway, which pretty much sums up what the Hawaiian Kingdom stickers are for.

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In case you can’t read it, the gist of it is: Shame on everyone who bought into the American philosophy. Anyone who accepts America as their statehood is basically working with the enemy. America has taken away their inherent sovereignty. Shame on those that celebrate Statehood and honor the thieves. Thieves that locked up their Queen. Stole their land and beat their ancestors for speaking their native tongue.

Someone asked me recently how the Hawaiians felt about America, or Americans. I hate to admit it, but once you get out of the tourist areas, the above is the general feeling we perceive. I always felt like I stood out, and wasn’t very welcome, but I just put on my rosy glasses and went about my business. I had no proof and some could say it was just my imagination but when I got on an elevator a little while ago and a woman looked at me, then gasped, and said…”wow. a blondie. we don’t see many of them around here.” I knew it wasn’t just in my imagination now. Eventually I broke down the cashiers at the local grocery store and had them laughing with me on occasion, but overall it felt like we were living in a foreign country. I can now say we know a little bit how it feels to be the minority and face discrimination. and it wasn’t very comfortable.

Who knows how many really feel that way, I know it wasn’t the majority, since the majority are mainland transplants anyway, but in the country and heavy Islander populated areas, it’s not uncommon to see Hawaiian Parking Only signs and We were born here, You flew here signs.

Of course, this was more of a silent prejudice for the most part, besides… it was much more fun to find and focus on the good, the beauty, and the funny:

SLR Lanikai 115 *If you don’t get it, just ask.

Wednesday, October 13

White Plains Beach

Annie had been telling us about White Plains Beach for months now, so before we left the island we had to check it out. I didn’t really have any expectations about this beach but she said it’s great for surfing, so we loaded up our two longboards, her SUP, and made our way south for the summer swells. It had been flat all summer on the west coast, so this was Jake’s first chance to surf in months. He was going to use my board but as he was carrying it down to the beach he jumped off a short cement block retaining wall (because I told him to go that way) and as he jumped down the back of the board hit the top of the wall and cracked open! I did the exact same thing my first time carrying that board down to the beach. You’d have thought I’d already learned that lesson. It was a major buzz kill, but Jake attempted Joey’s big ten footer anyway and while it was way too big for him, the boy surfed! and I didn’t get any pictures! but that’s not why he likes it anyway.
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Unlike the reef beaches we’d been surfing on this one has a soft sandy bottom, so I was really looking forward to surfing myself but between my cracked board, and Jonas’ foul mood, I wasn’t up for it. Instead I boogie boarded with Jewel for a while and then set off to get a few photos.
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I walked over closer to this fence thinking I could try to get a shot of Diamondhead through a chainlink.
White Plains 028 And after I get one uninspiring picture that way I look down and see these guys sleeping right in front of me!White Plains 017
Two Hawaiian Monk Seals. Funny how my mood instantly brightened.White Plains 018
There was a man there from a monk preservation society who was making sure no one molested them, and to answer any questions people may have, and to just basically educate. While most people spent a couple minutes taking pictures, and then going back to the beach, Jewel stayed there for probably forty five minutes just soaking up everything he had to say and waiting for this Dad and his Daughter to wake up. They never did, but it was still exciting to be so close to these guys in their natural habitat. The thing Jewel remembers most was the story of how the big one (Dad) got bit by a shark and was able to make himself stop bleeding. Apparently they have a way of cutting off blood flow to wounded areas. Pretty cool.
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White Plains gets a two thumbs up but I would definitely recommend not going on the weekend.
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I like my beaches a little less crowded.

Tuesday, October 12

Pearl Harbor

Seeing the U.S.S. Arizona is another one of those must do things when visiting Oahu. I had already been there back in ‘02 with Joey and Jewel (then a baby) so I hadn’t really given much thought to going again, then I remembered the boys had never been. And it’s FREE. Now the boys weren’t too excited but after I told them all about the fabulous on site museum, they agreed to go. My friend Annie was supposed to join us, but she couldn’t make it last minute so we just went on ahead anyway. To tell you the truth, I actually prefer things like this without any guests anyway….more focus on the kids.

For once we made it there without getting lost, except that once for directions, only to end up in parking lot hell. Most visitors go by bus so the parking lot is small, and right off the bat I had a tourist steal my parking space I had been waiting for. I wanted to go all Kathy Bates on him but he wouldn’t have understood me anyway so I just continued circling and waiting. Then it happened again! Now it’s just comical so we’re waiting for a third time, but luckily no more thievery and we were finally able to park. We got in, got our ticket for the ferry with thirty minutes to spare to tour the museum…only the museum is closed for construction. Major bummer. We walk over to the U.S.S. Missouri Battleship and decide after the Arizona tour we’ll get tickets and climb aboard it. 

Pearl Harbor 007 First, we have to walk over to the ferry that’s going to shuttle us out to the sunken ship. It’s just a short walk, but nice views of Pearl Harbor, Ford Island Bridge, and that huge golf ball on stilts that I still haven’t figured out what the heck it is, or when it floated in.

Pearl Harbor 009 It was a pretty hot wait for the ferry, and to amuse myself I secretly took pictures of the tourists and Jonas.Pearl Harbor 019

Jewel is very nervous to get on a moving boat. We visited with a cruising family, S/V Capaz,  while they were in island briefly making their way from the South Pacific to Canada, and Jewel was happy to feel the relative calmness of the yacht in harbor, but she’s anxious to see what it feels like in motion.

 Pearl Harbor 025 I couldn’t tell her this ferry ride is nothing like a sailboat

Pearl Harbor 026 I was happy to see these wheelchair clamps on the ferry, knowing that my friend Harli and all her other Angel friends get to see this piece of history up close, and unhindered, just like the rest of us.

 Pearl Harbor 045 Getting off the ferry onto the platform the Captain instructed everyone to go straight into the memorial building and not to STOP to take ANY pictures from this dock. I can’t stand to be told NOT to do something. Pearl Harbor 052 This one is from inside the memorial building, looking toward Pearl. That’s the looong Ford Island Bridge in the background. We tried to drive on it only to be turned around at the gate with a stern “This is a military base Ma’am!” I didn’t even get to tell him we just wanted to go to the museum!

Proof I had all three kids with me. And No, I didn’t notice they were all in blue until just now.Pearl Harbor 061 We were getting a little, umm…bored at this point. So I took a cue from Tiffani, one of my favorite photographers, and decided to punch things up a bit.

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Pearl Harbor 073 Pearl Harbor 086I have a picture of Jewel in front of this anchor( it was in a different location then) when she was a baby, but darnit, can’t find it right now.

 Pearl Harbor 090 It was a hot day, and by the time we got done with the Arizona tour we were no longer as interested in checking out the Missouri so decided to find some lunch instead. I ended up finding a parking garage so assumed there was a mall attached to it, with a food court, but even better was an extra long moving ramp. With no security in sight. The kids had a blast on the moving ramp and declared that the highlight of the day.

We topped off the day at this gorgeous little roadside park.

Pearl Harbor 092 Pearl Harbor 098 The T at the end is hollow, and inside is where Jonas can be found, while Jake supervises.

Sun. Sand. Surf……. So this is what pure bliss feels like.

Saturday, August 28

Makapu’u Tidepools

When it came to looking for hikes on Oahu I was first focused primarily on the most popular hikes, then I switched to hikes that ended with a waterfall. After doing a few waterfall hikes here I learned that Oahu is indeed not a great island for spectacular waterfalls. While I’ve enjoyed the hike itself much more than the waterfalls, the kids want that special treat at the end. So, I was pretty excited when I found this secret route to the Makapu’u tidepools and then when I mentioned to the kids that we would be getting up early the next morning to do it, they were all equally eager for it.

The kids and I had done the hike out to the Makapu’u lighthouse back when we were here in 2004, but I never knew about the deep tidepools down below it. The hike up to the lighthouse was easy since it was paved the whole way, but this secret hike takes you around the mountain, along it’s rocky shoreline.

Makap'u hike me & kids Makapu'u Lighthouse

Isn’t Jonas adorable in his little bonnet?

Anyway, I was so energized to start our day and had planned on leaving at seven, but expected more like eight. We didn’t leave until about nine thirty but since we were hiking to water, I wasn’t too concerned with the late start. Then I miss my very first exit to the other side of the island, but quickly get back on the right road. To then make yet another wrong turn on the other side of the island which forced me back through the mountain, via long tunnel, right back to the other side of the island. I said screw that way, let’s take the loooong way around and enjoy the southeast coast. Finally around NOON we hit the trailhead.

Makapu'u Hike 027Instinctively the kids took off ahead and headed straight up the road. I had to call them back and tell them we’re going down, not up, this time.

While everyone else went up the road, we veered off this rocky trail and headed straight for Pele’s Chair, that rocky peak straight ahead towards the coast. Some locals stopped us and told us there was no way to get to the pools we were wanting to from this direction, that we’d have to go up to the lighthouse and then straight down the mountainside, but I knew it could be done and was determined to make it happen. Plus I knew walking along the rocky coast would be more fun and scenic anyway then going on a blacktop path.

As usual Jake took off ahead of us and by the time we got to Pele’s Chair I wasn’t even sure where he went. Then he popped around some rocks and also declared the hike along the coast IMPOSSIBLE. Not to be deterred I had to see for myself…of course.


Makapu'u Hike 034

While not, impossible….it was WAY too dangerous. After climbing over some questionable rocks that could easily break away with no warning, and then hitting this wall, along with the very large waves battering the coast, I had to agree….. and called off the rest of this hike.

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Even if we safely made it past this turn there was just more waiting for us. On a calmer day we could have walked in the water but as it was we would have just been pounded into the rocks. Luckily there was a great little cove to the right of Pele’s Chair where we could at least get in the water and cool off!

Makapu'u cove pan

We didn’t go the normal beach route though….we had to do it local style! By jumping from the rocks, of course. And as usual….Jonas was the first one to hit the water.

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Jake was grumpy because he said he was finally excited about a hike and now we can’t do it, so at first he refused to even join us in the water. The temptation must have become too strong though because he did eventually join us, but he still acted like he was miserable and this place was just NO FUN!

Which the local teenagers would have to disagree wholeheartedly with.

Makapu'u Hike 045 Makapu'u Hike 046 Makapu'u Hike 047

Jumping from a telephone pole stuck into rocks ten feet above the water into a child’s innertube. Now that’s what the locals call FUN! They were also throwing soda bottles on the water and jumping on them to see how high they would rocket back up out of the water.

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But there was no pleasing my boy, so we stayed only about thirty minutes. With the promise of Pizza Hut, my new teen did eventually come around to his usual cool self.

First, a quick sightseeing walk along Waimanalo Beach:

Makapu'u Hike 078Makapu'u Hike 090

Then some fish taco’s with pineapple salsa:

Makapu'u Hike 093

It was a rough day. I enjoyed everything we did, but it’s getting stressful that the boys never seem to want to do ANYTHING anymore except play videogames. All they wanted to do was come to Hawaii, yet I have to beg and plead with them to go to the beach. THE BEACH! What kid doesn’t want to do that? Even when they do go to the beach one of the boys are usually asking to go home within an hour.

I’m being patient, though.

Friday, August 27

Diamond Head Crater


White Plains 028 Diamond Head Crater is probably THE most recognizable landmark in all of Oahu. We see it from thirty miles away as we leave the Westside and hit the South Shore, yet as noticeable and famous as it is, there was nothing really drawing me to it. It was just another tourist trap that I needed to avoid, in my mind. Then I saw a picture taken from the top. Two days later we were hiking it.

diamondhead 003 We opted to drive into the crater, through a tunnel, and pay the 5$ parking fee. Otherwise people park outside or take The Bus, and add a long walk in the heat, on hot blacktop. No thank you. Our first view of the top is just shortly after the trailhead entrance, way up there in the top right of the above photo. I’m so used to green Hawaii I sure wasn’t expecting all this brown, but apparently they don’t get much rain over here.

diamondhead 008

It starts off long, winding, dusty and hot. And did I say hot and dusty?

diamondhead 006This was our first time using the Camelbak we bought from the Pearl City Goodwill…… four months ago. Can I get a big YeeHaw! for the Camelbak? The kids actually semi-fought over who would carry it! I’m used to carrying frozen bottles of water for everyone so this was a NICE change for me. I didn’t carry anything but my camera.

Diamond Head Crater pan

About halfway up we started seeing views of the interior that really started to define the crater, along with stunning views of all the houses creeping up the hillsides.

Just when we were panting good and hard, we hit our first set of stairs.

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Which led us into a 225 foot long tunnel, to another set of even steeper and longer stairs.

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Can you see how excited Jewel is about this set of stairs?

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She’s actually fretting over how much she’s sweating.

And where in the world is Jake? As hard as he tried, he couldn’t go as slow as us, and after finally completing all the stairs and then a three story high spiral staircase in an old Army bunker, we finally met up with him at the top. Only it wasn’t the TOP, top.

diamondhead 024

We popped out at a bunker opening and then the boys decided to just stay there while Jewel and I went on to the very top bunker.

diamondhead 040

We also met back up with Annie, who also felt that Jonas, Jewel and I were too slow and had taken off ahead of us with Jake.

diamondhead 042 They enjoyed some much needed shade time, while overlooking Waikiki.

diamondhead 045 Jewel and I went on and faced the crowd at the top on our own.diamondhead 035

Jewel is modeling the view directly south, and then as we make our walk back down the view is to the northeast, which includes, I believe, Cocohead Crater. (Another hike I would like to do before leaving the island).

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Ahhhh…..heading down is so much easier. It’s so easy that it’s easy to get careless, and in my magnificent hiking shoes (strappy crocs), I slipped right on some loose gravel and landed right on my butt! But I was like a cat and bounced up so fast the people behind me barely had time to gasp.

I ran before I could hear them laugh.

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Upon returning to the trailhead the kids always seem to have enough energy to climb trees. Hmmmm.

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After resting in the shade for a while we left to grab some food and ended up finding a perfect spot, right along Ala Wai Canal in downtown Honolulu, to have a peaceful, shady picnic lunch.

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Overall impressions of the Diamond Head hike:

Jake: Long and sweaty

Jonas: Ehhh…..there was hardly anything at the end…….and…….I’m not a big fan of hikes.

Jewel: Yeah! I really liked it! but it did make me tired.

Me: Better than expected! Would be even better if done very early in the morning, when it’s cooler and with less people. I loved it for the uniqueness of the stairs and the tunnels and the switchbacks, and of course the gorgeous views at the top. I also disagree about it being a tourist trap, we learned a lot about the Military’s history in this crater that we didn’t even know existed beforehand. So…..good for the body, good for the mind, good for the senses, and good for the soul. That’s what I call a Good Hike.

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