6/25/05 - Hawaii – Day 1 – And Don’t Call Me Shirley1 – Our flight departed at about 4:30PM so this was mostly just a flying day for us. Not minding the short layover, we had the opportunity to wander around Los Angeles Airport. We ate Nachos at El Cholo (which claims to have invented Nachos). Not sure if their claim is true, but the nachos certainly were yummy! The connecting flight to Hawaii was smooth, but very cramped. I listened to a few TV shows and read while Susan did a crossword and napped. We arrived in Hawaii at about 10:30PM local time; five hours behind Texas and Oklahoma. Fortunately, Bryan was there to pick us up and we made a quick tour of downtown Waikiki before tracking down our beach house. The beach house was nice, and I’m glad we were able to find it on short notice. There were two bedrooms and a full kitchen and living room. We didn’t spend much time there, but it was much better than retiring to a hotel room.
1 - Leslie Nielson from Airplane
6/26/05 - Hawaii – Day 2 – Waikiki – I visited the beach first thing in the morning and it was beautiful. There is a narrow trail leading up to the beach with a variety of flowers and plants (This was the first of several hundred pictures we took). It then opens up into a huge white sand beach with mountains and a few tiny islands in the distance. It was a slow morning, but by afternoon we were snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. It was here we saw our largest variety of fish to date (more so than Mexico, but not much of a variety beyond fish – ex, no sting rays)! I don’t know the names, but we definitely saw all the colors of the rainbow while swimming around. The water was brisk here and always seemed a bit chilly; however, acclimation to the temperature didn’t take too long. The temperature in general during our entire stay was about 78° - must be tough to be a weatherman here (I checked out weather.com prior to the trip; the 10-day forecast was identical for every day).
For dinner we stopped at a place called Bubba Gump's (just like in the Forrest Gump movie). The food was very tasty and the waitress dealt out quite a bit of movie trivia to try and stump us. For example, who played Forrest’s mom in the movie (hover the mouse here for the answer).
At night we returned to Waikiki and toured the street vendors. I picked up a few new Hawaiian shirts and Susan found some very comfortable shoes and several souvenirs for her colleagues. We snagged pizza from a street vendor (they have the best pizza!) and watched a little of an outdoor Hawaiian concert. After sunset we made our way over to the beach and found a cache buried about a foot deep in the sand (not as difficult as it sounds; the owner told us exactly where to dig). This is where we dropped off the travel bug with Maui as its goal. It’s almost home - Woohoo!
6/27/05 - Hawaii – Day 3 – Island Tour – After breakfast we drove to the nearby Ho’Omaluhia Botanical Gardens (I gave up trying to correctly pronounce names here after the second day). From here was a spectacular view of the ridge that the Stairway to Heaven is located on. Unfortunately, the stairway (which goes high enough that you can literally walk through the clouds) is on private property and we didn't want to trespass.
In the early afternoon we visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona memorial. Since the tour of the Arizona required about three hours of time, we just got as close as we could to the ship without actually going on the tour. Fortunately, since Bryan had military access to the nearby base, we were able to view the Arizona memorial and USS Missouri up close and personal. Several of the old buildings on the base are not viewable by the general public and it was interesting to see structures that had remained unchanged since World War II.
For lunch we introduced Bryan to Sushi (the jury is still out on whether he will try Sushi a second time). The Sushi was really fresh, but still on par with what we can obtain in Fort Worth. After lunch we drove by the Dole and Del Monte plantations to view the pineapple crops. While there we sampled some fresh apple bananas (smaller than regular bananas with a slightly different taste) and sugar cane. Afterwards we journeyed along the West and North shores to snag a few caches and sightsee. A couple of the stops included some nice beaches with dramatic views.
For dinner we enjoyed a batch of fresh shrimp at a little restaurant bordering both the jungle and the beach. While waiting on our food we tossed around some horseshoes in attempt to look like we knew how to play the game.
6/28/05 - Hawaii – Day 4 – The Big Island – If our internal clocks weren’t messed up enough already we awoke at 2:30AM in order to catch a 5AM flight to the Big Island of Hawaii (I don’t think we caught up on our sleep until Saturday afternoon). We rented a car upon arrival and toured the Southern edge of the island. This island was quite a bit different than Oahu – less tropical and more spacious. In fact, except for the vegetation, I might have confused it with a hilly portion of Texas (that and the volcanoes in the distance were a dead giveaway). We spent most of the day at Volcano National Park (it is huge!). Steam vents, gigantic craters (several of the craters were over 1000 feet deep), lava beds, petroglyphs, and magma were just among the many things we saw in this desolate area. We also hiked the 6 mile round trip to see the steam plume of where flowing magma enters the ocean. The steam itself is acidic and can be seen for miles; it really doesn’t look much different up close, so I wouldn’t recommend the trip unless you want to try and witness flowing lava (which we did see to a certain extent and it made the hike completely worthwhile – although Susan might argue with me on that one ;).
After exiting the park we drove to the Southern most point of the United States to walk along the black sand beach of Punalu'u. In addition to watching some of the tiny ocean life swimming in the pools of water, we also snapped a few pictures of several sea turtles sun bathing on the beach.
With the heat beating down on us all day we decided to stop for a drink. What better place than one of the only two wineries in Hawaii (the other is in Maui). The Volcano Winery let us sample about seven of their wines and most of them were flavorsome; however, we only brought one bottle home with us. Before leaving the Big Island we stopped at a local wild bird center; unfortunately, we only spotted a few pheasants and red house finches.
6/29/05 - Hawaii – Day 5 – Polynesian Luau – In the morning we attended our only formal excursion of the week, a “waterfall” tour. We actually saw few waterfalls and instead learned quite a bit about the Hawaiian culture from a tour guide who had spent nearly his entire life on the islands. Several of the stops were very serene, but it would have been more pleasant without the overly opinionated tour guide (he had something against the military “stealing” his island from him, and of course, he figured out Bryan was military). The main waterfall we saw was the upside down waterfall. Although it does flow correctly, on some days, it gives the appearance of flowing backward.
In the afternoon we took another scenic tour along the North shore to attend a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We had pulled pork, fish, and poi (a nutritious Hawaiian food made from the Taro – it kind of tastes like runny bathtub grout). The purple Taro bread rolls (made from the same plant, strangely enough) were delicious. The luau, and after dinner show, featured dances from a variety of island cultures (Samoa, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, and Hawaii). After the luau we returned to the beach house and shared a bottle of Pineapple and Guava wine. It was both sweet and fruity.
6/30/05 - Hawaii – Day 6 – Surfing – This was our “vacation” from the vacation day. We spent the morning at our nearby beach. In addition to learning how to surf on a boogie board, we built sand castles, swam, and watched a few crabs peek out of the sand. Once we enjoyed all of the salt water we could stand we headed for the airport and another grueling flight.
7/01/05 - Hawaii – Day 7 – Bonus Pictures – There really wasn't a day seven on this trip; by the time midnight rolled around, we were probably halfway over the Pacific Ocean on our way back to the mainland. Nevertheless, I wanted to include a few more interesting and/or scenic pictures. Here they are...