Aloha Oahu!

IMG_0887So, it’s our final night in Honolulu–and what a trip it has been! Tonight, we went to Oceanarium and it was delicious. We had no idea what we were getting into other than it was in the hotel with the big aquarium. Turns out, it was an awesome buffet. On the way back to our home away from home–the Ilikai–we stumbled upon a Stevie Wonder concert! He was performing a private concert at an outdoor venue so we were able to hear–and partially see–the concert from the sidewalk–awesome! Very superstitious… First the season premier of Hawaii 5-0 on the beach and then Stevie Wonder, what luck!

But now, we must embark upon the loooong trip home. I am dreading the flight. We have a layover in Chicago so at least I’ll get to stretch my legs before the final leg. But then, I have to drive from NJ to MD–a 3-hour hike. And for those that don’t know, the NJ Turnpike is no joke. Alas, it must be done. All good things come to an end and so must vacation. But I am totally looking forward to seeing my dog!!! And the fall weather is approaching, one of my 2 fave seasons.

So there you have it. We went on trolley rides; to the Paradise Cove Luau; Pacific Aviation Museum; the Mighty Mo; Punchbowl Cemetery; the beach; the pool; and a host of restaurants and shops. It was exhausting and relaxing all rolled into 2 beautiful weeks. I’ve tweeted…I’ve posted on Facebook…and I’ve blogged. And now, I’m going to bed. Alooooooha!

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Hawaiian Vacation: Day 10

photo-14 I have completely lost track of days and dates. We booked several excursions at the start of our trip and I had to repeatedly check our tickets each day to make sure we didn’t miss one. Someone once told me that when you lose track of your days/dates, it’s the mark of a good vacation. On the whole, this has been an incredibly relaxing and lazy vaca. Today, was one of our more structured and active days.

We got up at 5am. Yes, 5am on vacation. The plan: Spend the day at Pearl Harbor. Well, as a result of the nonsense going on with the government, we weren’t able to visit the Arizona Memorial or the Bowfin Submarine–both national parks were closed. This is the first time in YEARS we haven’t been able to pay our respects. My 82-year old father, a Korean War veteran, was both annoyed and disappointed, as were we all–but something tells me, visiting Pearl Harbor touches him a bit deeper than the rest of us. Alas, we made do…

Our early day started by having a moment at the USS Oklahoma Memorial,  a tour of the Mighty Mo (i.e. photo-15the USS Missouri), then it was off to the Pacific Aviation Museum, capped off by  a drive through of Punchbowl Cemetery and finally downtown Honolulu. It was a lot to see and we enjoyed every minute of it.

My father often reminisces and tells stories of the ship he was on when he was in the Navy. He wasn’t on a battle ship, but a Destroyer. I love those stories. Our guide today on the Mighty Mo was awesome, incredibly informative, and we all learned things we hadn’t heard before. For me, it was that the family of the kamikaze pilot that crashed into the Mighty Mo and died had donated a photo of the pilot as a child as well as in his military uniform. I was also unaware that when the instruments of surrender were being signed, 2 POWs were standing at the signing and weighed less than 100lbs. each after being held captive for 3 years. Both men standing over 6 feet tall. War is an ugly, ugly thing.

But it was not all solemn. My father talked of sliding down the rails when going from one deck to another. How he slept on the top bunk in case someone got seasick. And how one of his shipmates was plotting to escape home to Panama when the ship went through the Panama Canal because he didn’t want to go to Korea. (Ultimately, he was thrown in the brig on land. But he did avoid Korea.)

photo-16The Aviation Museum was fun. Though I have to say, it has cemented my refusal to ever ride in a helicopter. You are allowed to enter actual military helicopters and they just freak me out. But then so do submarines. Hmmm…perhaps I have a touch of claustrophobia…but I digress.

This was the first time we drove through Punchbowl. Usually, we take a walking tour, guided by a docent; but apparently, that is no longer allowed. Bummer, those WWII vets were the cutest! As far as cemeteries go, it’s a very pretty place and I’m glad the men and women that serve our country have such a beautiful final resting place.

One of the coolest things that we saw today, was a Naval ship pulling into Pearl Harbor. The seamen were on deck, the horn was blowing… To stand on the deck of the Mighty Mo watching a ship pull in is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Awesome.

So, for a day that was actually cut short due to the first 2 visits being off-limits, it was still a long–but enjoyable day. A day that finished out at the pool. Still working on my tan! But now, it’s off to dinner. Yummy!!!

Hawaiian Vacation: Day 5

photo-13Thursday was a bit ‘play it by ear.’ While I do an itinerary each year–ok, I must speak to the itinerary for a moment. Several years back, we didn’t have an itinerary. As a result, every day we came out of our hotel went something like this: “Where do you want to eat? I don’t know, where do you want to eat? Do you want to go to Duke’s? I don’t care, do you want to go to Duke’s?” People, this is a true story–heed my warning, don’t let it happen to you! Since then, I have done an itinerary every year. It outlines activities and eateries for every day. It doesn’t have to be followed to the letter but it does serve as a guide.

This year, I inserted a picture from past trips for each day’s activities, had a caricature  drawn for the cover–based on a photo taken at the Mighty Mo, had them printed, bound, wrapped in tissue, covered with beach stickers, secured with a lei, and then mailed one to everyone with a pack of macadamia nuts, a week before we left, to get everyone in the Aloha Spirit. I fear I’ve set the bar too high. But back to Day 5…

We spent the day on the blue line trolley tour. The tour guides were absolutely awesome! Both were Hawaiian natives, born and raised in the islands. We saw the beach where the infamous ‘From Here to Eternity’ beach scene was filmed. A famous blowhole. We stopped by Hanauma Bay and then toured the coastline, absolutely beautiful.

After the 2.5 hour tour, we grabbed a bite to eat at Round Table Pizza (yummy) and then strolled down Kalakaua for the movie on the beach. The night’s viewing was the season 4 premier of Hawaii 5-0 and the cast was there to celebrate. And for the after-show, the Jonas Brothers performed a free concert. Total chaos, but a lot of fun. Seriously, who goes on vacation and then happens to be in town for such a thing? Now, we just have to find out where they’re filming tomorrow so we can be extras in a few shots. We could play tourists!

Our Trip to Honolulu Zoo

imageOn day 2 of our vacation in paradise, we went to the zoo. (At the time this post was started, we were still there because it was pouring rain. And since we don’t have a car and were quite a ways from the hotel, sitting in the children’s petting zoo area was the go-to option. Now, unfortunately, we had sent my one cousin to be captured by the gorillas while we hung out with the tiger. He’d been gone a while, but we hoped he would turn up in one piece. Ok…ok…ok…he wanted to see the orangutans, which we had seen, so he went off on his own. And yes, he returned unscathed.)

The zoo trip was the first time I had ever heard a lion roar–that was pretty awesome. The zoo, in general, was pretty cool. My father has been a zoo fan for years, so growing up, I had the privilege  of visiting quite a few zoos on our travels, including the Bronx Zoo, where I rode an elephant with my Dad when I was a little girl.

The trip to Honolulu Zoo did not include riding an elephant, but it was fun and definitely worth a visit if you travel to the island; particularly if you have children. Though, I have to say, my 27-year old cousin is the reason we went to the zoo and he had a, and I quote, “a marvelous time.” Apparently, the zoo is for all ages.

After seeing the animals; hanging out under an awning to wait out the monsoon-like rain, I proceeded to walk back to the condo. It’s a loooong walk, or so I thought. Turns out, it was only about 2 miles. But I’m sayin’…it felt waaaaay longer! Lunch, relaxing, dinner, and now we are all drained. I hear snoring going on all around me-I think it’s time to hang it up for the night and see what kind of trouble we can get into tomorrow.

Aloooooha!

Oahu Vacation: Day 1

photo 1It was an incredible first day in paradise and felt like coming home. But after 20+ times coming here, it is like home away from home. I can’t say that I’m committing to a daily blog, but I’m going to do my best to keep up to date on the activities as quickly after they occur as possible.

Our day started at Duke’s, one of our favorite spots. The breakfast buffet, is without a doubt, one of the best in Waikiki. After my orange, guava, passion fruit juice, some of the tastiest home fries ever, and the delicious French toast, we stopped by the concierge desk in the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach. Incidentally, this Outrigger used to be our home away from home and therefore, still holds a special place in my heart. Anyway, Jackie–one of the concierge’s there, has been booking our excursions for the last 3 years, so it was good to see her. If you ever go there, ask for Jackie–she’s awesome!

So after a hearty breakfast and our upcoming activities booked, it was off to get our trolley passes. In the same vein, we’ve bought our trolley passes from the trolley desk in Royal Hawaiian Center for the last few years as well, from the same lady, she too rocks.

Then, it was off to the beach! My one cousin and I stayed in the water for about 2 hours. I truly think that I’m part fish, because once I get in, I don’t wanna get out. But here’s a tip–put on sunscreen! I am now bright red and tender to the touch because I neglected to put on sunscreen because I just wanted to go swimming in that gorgeous blue water! Lesson learned.

Post beach, it was off to Tiki’s for afternoon cocktails. They make a delicious blue Hawaii. We trolley’d back to the hotel and had just settled in for an afternoon snack when the fire alarm started going off. Mind you, there was a funny smell while we were waiting at the elevator. And as we were sitting on the lanai, we did notice several fire trucks pull up, but who pays attention to such things when they’re on vacation? Alas, we were told to vacate our rooms and not to use the elevators but to come down the nearest staircase. Here’s the kicker–of the 26 floors in the hotel, we’re on the 24th. We made it to floor 16 when we were told we could take the elevator back to our floor and go back to our room. Thankfully, the fire was in the parking garage and was contained and under control. Don’t think anyone was hurt; so off to dinner we went. One incredibly delicious pulled pork sandwich later, a stop at a few stores in The Hilton Hawaiian Village and then it was time for bed.

Next up, the zoo!