Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sun, Sand & Tsunamis?!

I never know what to expect from "beach" vacations because I'm not much of a sun person (the joys of fair skin!) and I'm really not much of a lay around on vacation person.  Plus I knew I was going with people who were both sun and lay around people.  How did I get talked into this?  My boss's daughter was playing in a softball tournament and somehow Jessica, Nilufer & I invited ourselves along.  Because I'll take any excuse to go to Hawaii!!  (And the fact that it would help knock off a couple of items on my 33 Things list didn't hurt either!  Ha!)

Jessica, Nilufer & I left Friday night, expecting a direct flight to Honolulu.  Our direct flight had morphed into a flight with a stop in Oakland.  Something about winds and they needed to stop and refuel.  When I heard winds I thought for sure we were in for a bumpy ride, but no, the flight was actually smooth.  A (my boss) met us at the airport and soon we were at our hotel, which was massive!  The hotel room, not so much, especially with four people.  I was exhausted and went right to bed but didn't end up sleeping too well, drifting in and out of a sleep all night.

We had forgotten to pull the blinds so Saturday morning came early for me.  If the sun is up, I'm usually up.  Nilufer was up as well so we threw on clothes and explored the complex, finding a Starbucks!  Hooray!  We went back to the hotel & got ready.  The forecast called for some clouds with a chance of rain so we decided to go watch some softball.  We won the first game (yay!) in the last inning off a home run.  We weren't so lucky in the second game but we got to watch K (A's daughter) pitch, which was really fun.  In between games we had lunch a little Greek restaurant.  When the games were over, we drove back to the hotel and later met up with K for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.

We remembered the blinds on Sunday morning, and so were able to sleep in, at least a little bit.  The forecast still was predicting rain, but you wouldn't know it from the clear blue sunny skies.  A left to watch softball and Jessica, Nilufer & I meandered down to the beach.  I proceeded to drop my stuff off and go directly into the ocean.  I am such a water girl.  I would never have thought that about myself, but when I moved to Houston, I realized I really missed the water.  I tried swimming and after a few awkward tries my knee finally cooperated (somewhat).  If I kept my knee straight I was fine for the most part.  It felt so good to be in the water though!  And then I got out and realized I was starting to get sunburned.  Boo.  I lathered on more sunscreen and we left the beach to have lunch, and our first fruity drink!  I love that it is always fruity drink o'clock on vacation!

Guess what?!  We had lunch at the hotel restaurant (Tropics, where we would end up eating several times).  And they filmed a scene from the new Hawaii 5-0 there!!  I was so excited when I found out!  After lunch we had scheduled massages.  While it wasn't the best massage I'd ever had, it wasn't the worst.  I also got my fingernails painted a deep blue, which is so unlike me (no toes as I just can't stand to have people touch my feet - one of these days I'll get over it, hopefully).  And the best part - it had started absolutely pouring while we were in the spa, so we missed the rain!  We walked down the beach and then finally ended up at Duke's for dinner.  And after dinner it was Hula pie.  Oh yum!!  We walked back to the hotel along the beach.  I love listening to the waves and watching them break and crash.

We had grand plans for Monday to go to the Dole Plantation, North Shore & the Polynesian Cultural Center.  Unfortunately, even though I was up early, our plans were for naught as by the time we arrived at the rental car desk all the cars were gone.  Boo.  Good thing we are on vacation and not worried about plans.  Oh wait, this is me we are talking about.  So yeah, good thing I'm learning to be flexible.  Or at least attempting to be flexible.  Beach anyone?  Once again I probably spent too much time in the water because as I got out I could feel my back burning.  Time to apply more sunscreen and cover up.  We had lunch at the hotel and then hit the pool.  I was not feeling the sun (or really I was feeling the sun too much) so I left Jessica & Nilufer to the direct sun and found a less sunny spot to chill by the pool.  But even with the shade and covering up the damage was done.  I have had worse sunburns (Cabo comes to mind), but this one was still bad.  Let's just say I did not have the most comfortable night.  The sunburn sucked all my energy.  I sat very carefully at dinner (which was at an Irish pub) and tried not to move that night while I slept.  But I think I tossed and turned quite a bit trying to find a spot that wouldn't irritate my sunburn.

The original plan for Tuesday morning included a hike up Diamond Head with the softball team.  A hike starting at 8 a.m.  Fortunately the 8 a.m. start time became a 10 a.m. start time!  We met up with the team and they were off and I was in my familiar spot of the back of the pack.  I was extremely careful and held on to all handrails (no more falling off cliffs for me!).  The trail seemed to go up and up and up and there was way over 200 stairs!!  But finally I was at the top and the view was amazing!!  Best part about the way down?  The shave ice at the bottom.  Yum!!  We met back up with K for lunch at Cheeseburger in Paradise.  Do you know what was across the street from Cheeseburger in Paradise?  Yogurtland!!  Make your own frozen yogurt concoctions.  It was quite yummy.  We walked back to the hotel after our yummy yogurt.  I was still feeling the effects of too much sun the day before so I explored the hotel a bit and hung out on our balcony while Jessica & Nilufer went to the beach.  We met back up with A & K for dinner at Duke's and a walk back to the hotel along the beach.

Wednesday morning we woke up early to go snorkeling!  I had heard from several people that the place to go snorkeling was Hanauma Bay but you had to get there early.  So we were up early and on the road to Hanauma Bay.  I really enjoyed the snorkeling.  We saw lots of fish (but no turtles).  And even a rainbow fish!  We were starving by this time so found a pancake house (next to a Ross which was good because some of us may have forgotten extra undergarments and when I say some of us, I was one of the some.  Yes, I forgot an extra bra.  Dang it!  But I wasn't the only one!).  The pancakes were yummy, especially with coconut syrup!  We made a quick stop at the Halona Blowhole, which on a good day you can see water spray up like a geyser.  We were not there on a good day, but it was still beautiful scenery.  We continued along to the "easy" hike to see the Makapuu Lighthouse.  It was only a mile, but it was a mile that just kept going up and up.  We stopped along the way to watch whales!!  And saw one jump!  The hike to the lighthouse ended up being kind of a gyp since we didn't get too close to the lighthouse.  There was potentially a way to get closer, but there was a gate and we have learned our lesson about hiking on closed trails!! :)  We ended up at Kailua Beach, which is purported to be one of the best beaches, but you wouldn't know that from the bathroom.  It was really cold and windy by this time and so we chilled on the beach for awhile before heading back to Waikiki.  Dinner was at the Italian restaurant at the hotel.  It was not the best Italian I've ever had.

Thursday would end up being the most stressful day of the trip, but let's start at the beginning, with breakfast, before the stress happened.  Breakfast was at Tropics, our favorite hotel restaurant.  I had Bananas Foster French Toast, which is as good as it sounds!!  Our original plan had been to go with the team to Pearl Harbor, but the team ended up going on Wednesday after their games got rained out.  We thought about taking the bus but after finding out it would take an hour, we decided to cab it.  Good call on our parts.  I'm not much of an audio tour person, but the audio tour was really good.  The site was so amazing and so solemn.  I've been fascinated by WWII for a long time and in eighth grade did a report on the attack on Pearl Harbor so it was incredible to be there and hear stories of the survivors.  Walking across the memorial and seeing the outline of USS Arizona in the waters below - such devastation happened, and yet it was so calm looking out across the water.

After our morning at Pearl Harbor, we took the bus back to the hotel to get ready for the luau!  We took a charter bus out to the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed).  The luau was fun!  Several of us (me included!) got on stage to learn how to hula.  The food was so-so but I enjoyed the entertainment!!  It was towards the end of the night when we first found out about the potential for a tsunami heading to Hawaii.  I didn't believe it at first.  The entire ride home I was checking and CNN.  And looking out the window and the enormously long lines at gas stations.  A tsunami was definitely heading towards Hawaii.  Oh crap.  What do you do in a tsunami?  Head for the hills.  My first inclination was to jump in the rental car and drive for the mountains.  What we were told though was that we were in the "vertical safety zone" which meant our hotel room was above the fourth floor so we should be fine.  Not knowing we decided to stock up on supplies - water and chocolate.  Looking back, maybe should have gotten bread and peanut butter instead of the chocolate and string cheese, but I wasn't thinking too clearly.  We were laughing hysterically at this point at our supplies.  Even though our hotel assured us we were safe, because we were on the beach and because A wanted to be with K and we decided to all stick together, we packed up bags and headed to K's hotel, which was several blocks inland.  I'm still not sure what I packed or why I packed what I did, but soon we were loaded up and leaving our hotel.  It was eerily quiet walking to K's hotel.  The quiet was interrupted by the sirens were going off every hour.  Jessica, Nilufer & I ended up sleeping on the floor of K's hotel room.  And sleeping isn't the best description of what we did - tossing and turning while listening to or watching the news is a better one.  Finally it hit, but with minimal impact to our area.  Thank goodness!!

I think I may have mentioned before I deal with stress by laughing.  But in no way do I mean to trivialize the earthquake.  From the moment I heard tsunami I went into my own little survival bubble.  It wasn't until the next morning when I was still alive that I was able to process the horrible devastation in Japan.

Friday morning the sun was out but we were still under a tsunami advisory.  We had planned to pick up a rental car today and visit the Dole Plantation and the North Shore.  Since we were all exhausted and I was a bit leery of leaving the area until the advisory was lifted, we ended up staying at the hotel.  Jessica, Nilufer & A headed to the beach since in their words there wasn't enough sun at the pool.  But me being a rule follower, went to the pool.  There was still an advisory in place and they were asking people not to go to the beach.  So I listened and did not go to the beach.  I met back up with Jessica & Nilufer for lunch at Tropics and then it was back to the pool.  They sort of joined me at the pool - they were in a more sunny area and I was in the less sunny area.  We ended up calling it an early night and went up to our room to watch a movie, but basically ended up falling asleep.

We woke up early Saturday morning so we could go whale watching.  The boat ride was really smooth!  There were whales to watch, but they were too fast for my camera.  After it was over I realized I should have spoken whale and asked them to slowly jump out of the water!!  Ha!  I crack myself up.  We planned to meet up with A later on to catch one more softball game, but in the meantime it was our last afternoon by the pool.  Once again we split up - me to the not as sunny side of the pool (which ended up being fairly sunny today) and Jessica & Nilufer to the sunny side.  And before you know it, it was time to go watch softball.  After the game ended, we met up with K for dinner at PF Chang's and then it was a stop at Yogurtland for dessert.  We then went back to the hotel to pack. 

We had just a little bit of time Sunday morning so we walked along the beach, had brunch at Tropics, and one last fruity drink!  Then it was time to say aloha!


View from the top of Diamond Head

Fruity Drink O'Clock

At Hanauma Bay



Makapuu Lighthouse

Kailua Beach

Pearl Harbor - USS Arizona Memorial

Ah, Hawaii

At the luau

Fruity Drink O'Clock

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