Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 6 - Catamaran and Waikiki - Again

This morning we had a 2 hour catamaran sail. It was a breakfast sail as well, so we got fresh fruit, donuts and juice.

Before leaving the resort we packed a cooler full of drinks and sandwiches for lunch. We then headed into town. We needed to get some ice for the cooler and make sure we could find parking.

We found where we needed to be very easily and there was a fish shop right there along the pier that had ice, so we were good. We put the ice in the cooler, parked where we needed to, and gathered our things for the sail.

It was kind of funny because Madison wanted to bring her phone and keep it with her. I walked her over to the catamaran and showed her the netting up front. I told her that was where I was going to be and if she was going to be up there as well, then she needed to leave the phone in the car because it was going to get wet. We did have a waterproof bag that I put my phone, wallet and camera in, but I didn’t plan on getting in that bag. We bought a waterproof camera before the trip and I figured we would use that. Consequently, I don’t have photos from the sail right now (I’m only downloading pics from MY camera each day).

Anyway, we checked in for the sail and were the first ones on board. I quickly headed up to the netting at the front to claim my spot and it was a good thing I did. They told us that only 3 people were allowed on each side at a time. Luckily, most people who got on board were in regular clothes and I could tell probably did not want to get wet. I didn’t think many more people would want to be out there.

Once the boat was full and we had our safety meeting, we headed out to sea. When we got just a little way out they opened up the breakfast buffet, which consisted of fresh fruit and Hawaii’s version of donuts. Luckily my family brought me some fresh pineapple and a “donut”. It was covered in a cinnamon coating and was yummy.

I was right, too, in that it didn’t appear anyone else wanted on the netting. For most of the trip out it was just me and Dalton out there. I love laying there and just relaxing as the boat goes up and down with the waves. When we turned to go toward Diamonhead, the first mate came back and told us this was the part of the trip where we would probably get wet. Bring it on! We got into some pretty big waves and I did get wet. So did a lot of people who were in regular clothes.

After being out for about an hour we turned around and headed back. I wasn’t ready to be done, but I knew that all we had planned for the afternoon was beach time.

Once we got back to shore we headed toward Waikiki Beach again. Joel dropped us off at the beach where we wanted to be since we had the cooler and then he went to park. We claimed our piece of the beach and set up camp for the day.

For the first couple of hours we just enjoyed the beach. Yesterday afternoon a couple who was leaving gave us their boogie boards, so Dalton took that out in the water and just played around with that. Around lunchtime we all ate our sandwiches.

After lunch we decided that Madison and I would rent our surfboards first and then Joel and Dalton would rent theirs. Each rental was an hour and a half. Madison and I grabbed our boards and headed out.

This time we did a little better. Madison figured out the timing of the waves and was actually able to ride several in, some of them for a fairly decent distance. I got a little better, but was being a little cautious I think due to my rib still hurting from yesterday. I was able to stand up and ride a wave for a little bit, however, so it wasn’t a total fail. We had wanted to take lessons, but the cost was a little pricey for all of us to do that.

When we came back in Joel and Dalton grabbed their boards and headed out. Madison decided to go out on the boogie board with them so she could help them with the timing. She was out for about an hour and then came back to join me on the beach. Before they turned in the boards, I took the boogie board out so I could watch Dalton.

Unfortunately, both kids discovered why surfers wear the swim shirts they wear. For some reason the surfboards left rashes on both of the kids’ stomachs. Neither Joel nor I have the rash. So, either they were doing something right that we weren’t or they were doing something wrong that we weren’t. Who knows.

After getting worn out on the surfboards, Joel and Dalton turned their boards in and we all just lounged on the beach the rest of the afternoon. Shortly after 5pm we decided it was time to go. We headed to the grocery store to grab a few more things and then went back to the resort to eat dinner.

Being in the sun all day has worn the kids out so it will be an “early to bed” day for all of us.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 5 - Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach

Today was Pearl Harbor Day. Seeing Pearl Harbor was one of the reasons we picked Oahu. I knew it could be a long day, so I didn’t really plan anything afterwards except the beach.

We got up early this morning and arrive at Pearl Harbor a little before 7am. There were already some people in line, but maybe only 20 or so. I have to say I was amazed at how many people did not research before hand or read the signs to know that no bags were allowed in. Some had big bags full of all kinds of stuff.

At 7am when they opened the gates, we got our tickets for the Arizona Memorial. The tickets for this are free, but you do have to get tickets in order to take the ferry out. We were lucky and got the 8am tour, which is the first tour out. We also got our tickets for the USS Bowfin Submarine and the Battleship Missouri.

Since we had a bit of time before our ferry we walked around the grounds and read about some of the history. We also went ahead and got the audio tour so we could learn a little more.

At 8am we went in and watched a video about the history of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When the video was over we caught the ferry out to the memorial. That was really powerful. It amazes me that almost 60 years later, oil is still leaking from the ship. We took pictures and took in the experience before catching our ferry back.

We were going to do the Bowfin next, but the shuttle to take us out to Ford Island and the Missouri was there so we went ahead and hopped on. After a short ride we were dropped off at the Missouri. We decided we would do the tour on our own. At this point we were a little hungry, so we grabbed a quick snack before starting the tour. For a little while we were behind a young group of kids and it was taking a long time, so when we could we found a way to pass them and continue on the tour.

After seeing all we wanted to see, we caught the shuttle back to the visitor center so we could do our tour of the Bowfin submarine. There was an audio tour with that which was pretty interesting. However, being a submarine, it was close quarters and really hot.

By the time we were done, all of us were hot, hungry and grumpy. We needed food.

We got in the car and headed toward Waikiki because we knew we were going to spend the afternoon on the beach. All we needed to do was find parking and food. We decided to eat at the Hard Rock CafĂ©. It wasn’t really our first choice, but we had seen it yesterday so we knew where it was and we knew they would have a veggie burger for me. The food and service was actually really good. We even had a small dessert.

We then changed clothes and walked to Waikiki beach. Once there we rented 2 surfboards. Madison and I gave it a go first. Let’s just say that surfing is harder than stand up paddle boarding. After a little while I let Joel try. Unfortunately, Dalton had somehow forgotten his bathing suit, so no water time for him this afternoon. Joel was out for a short try and then I went out again. I can’t tell you how many times I fell and my ribs are a little sore from the time I landed on the board. Oops.

We turned the board in and chilled on the beach until around 6pm. Then we headed back to the resort to eat. It was a relaxing afternoon.

Day 4 - Diamondhead, North Shore, Dole Plantation and the Beach

Since we didn’t climb Diamondhead yesterday we decided to get up early this morning and be there at 6am when the park opened. We arrived right on schedule. The only bad part was that a tour bus arrived just before we did and that created a little back-up at the beginning.

Joel and I both wore our vibrams for the hike and that turned out to be a good decision. Most of the path is fairly smooth and the vibrams gave good traction.

I had wanted to see how fast we could climb up, but with the tour bus folks in front of us it was impossible to go real fast. We passed them when we could but at times that wasn’t possible, especially going up the 3 sets of stairs at the top.

You climb to the top in 0.8 miles so there are some sections that are fairly steep. I was actually amazed at how easy the hike felt to me when so many around us were really winded. We did see a few runners who come there for their hill workout. Let me tell you, that is a great workout if you are running.

When we got to the top we took our share of pictures and then started the decent.

Madison had complained that I was going too fast on the way up, yet she was the one going real fast on the descent. Going down in the vibrams was a little tougher for me because you had to pay a lot more attention to where you put your feet. Because of this Madison and Dalton got a little ways ahead of us. However, when I reached the smooth trail at the bottom I started running. When I was close to catching them they realized I was behind them and they took off running!

Overall I’d say we hiked for about 40 minutes. It was a great way to start the morning.

The next thing on the agenda was to find the Go Oahu Card office and swipe our cards for the Luau tonight. That didn’t take long and then we were on our way to the Dole Plantation.

We arrived at the Dole plantation about an hour before they opened so we decided to drive north and see if we could make it to the north shore or not. We came to the town of Haleiwa and decided to stop at the beach there and take a few pictures. It was really pretty and I can’t wait to explore more of the north shore later in the week.

We drove back to the Dole Plantation and arrived just as things were opening up. We walked around a little bit and then got our tickets to the maze. We planned on finding all 8 of the secret stations, but after finding 3 of them fairly easy and then taking forever and still not finding the fourth, we decided we had had enough of the maze and were ready to go. We stopped inside the store and split a macadamia nut cookie and a pineapple whip before heading back to the resort.

Once back at the resort it was time to eat lunch and get ready to hit the beach for the rest of the afternoon. We just stayed at the beach at the resort. Madison and Dalton found some little kids to play with and helped them build sandcastles. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

We all came inside and got ready for the Luau. It only took us about 15 minutes to get there. When we got there the entertainers were walking about in the crowd. One of Madison’s friends had told her to get a picture with a cute Hawaiian guy while she was here. Madison was planning on doing that while on Waikiki Beach, but when she saw one of the entertainers she decided THIS was THE PLACE for that picture. Dalton even found him a little hula girl.

The show began by the uncovering of the pig from being cooked in the pit in the ground. The ceremony for that was short thank goodness. Then it was time to eat. Since we had kids we got to be one of the first to go through the line. Madison and Dalton tried almost everything. There wasn’t much I could eat on the menu but I got what I could, including some delicious Hawaiian rolls.

Once everyone had been through the line the show began. It was pretty neat because they showcased some of the dances from the various influences – Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand and Samoa. They even had a guy perform a fireknife dance. Dalton was impressed with that. It was a pretty neat show.

After the Luau we headed back to the resort and to bed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 3 - Continued...Shopping and Segway

After the triathlon we headed back to the resort so I could shower. The plan at that point was to then head to Diamondhead so we could hike up that, then head to the Aloha Bowl Swap Meet to do some souvenir shopping, then return the bike and head into town for our segway tour. Most of that happened but not all.

We got back from the triathlon later than I had anticipated and the drive to Diamondhead took a little longer than anticipated as well, so when we go there the lot was full. Our options were to park at the park down the hill and walk to the entrance or come back another day. If we had opted to park and walk, that would have added an hour to the hike and we didn’t have that kind of time since the bike had to be back by a certain time. We decided to skip Diamondhead today and come back tomorrow. Instead, we headed to the swap meet.

The Aloha Bowl Swap meet is a bunch of venders who set up booths outside of the Aloha Bowl. They go all the way around. We parked, made note of where we were and set off walking. Madison had in mind some things she wanted but the rest of us were just looking. There was some interesting stuff, some cheap stuff, some food and lots of beach towels, bathing suits and luggage. Along the way we got hot and decided some shave ice sounded good. And it was, but it also melted pretty fast. We made our purchases and found our car and headed back to the resort to get the bike.

Back at the resort we ate lunch and then loaded up the bike. We dropped it off at the bike shop and then headed into downtown Honolulu so we could make sure we had time to find parking and figure out where we were meeting for our segway tour. The confirmation had said to meet at the Hilton Hawaiian Village so we figured we would try to find parking there. We did (for $24).

We got out and went to find the tower we were supposed to meet by. Oh my! That resort is HUGE. And it’s not just a resort. They have all kinds of shops on the property. High dollar ones, too. I almost think that the place is too big for me. I’m not sure I would enjoy staying there. It’s like its own little town. Anyway, we found where we needed to be and it was close to the beach so we went to check out the beach there. It was pretty but very crowded. We hung out in the park next to it until it was time for the tour to start.

When the tour guides got there we discovered it was our family and one other couple who would be on the tour. It turns out the other couple was from Australia. We all got to put our lovely helmets on and then one by one they taught us how to get on and operate the segway. It’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. The sudden stop took a little bit, but the rest was easy.

As soon as everyone was comfortable, we headed out for our tour. We went fairly slow at first. This was so that we could get use to the segway and also to get us out of the busy part of town. Once we got to Ala Moana Park, he let us go full speed and even took us up and down some of the hills there. We went to several landmarks and took some scenic pictures. We took a small break to give our feet a rest and then we headed back.

Going back through the park were some bumps and Dalton was getting bumped around on his segway, so the tour guide gave Dalton his heavy duty segway with the offroad tires. Boy was Dalton happy! The tour was really fun. I would have liked to see more of downtown during the tour, but you can’t do that tour unless you are 16 or over so it wasn’t an option for us.

When we were done, one of the tour guides took us to the penguin exhibit. Yep, you read that right. The Hilton Hawaiian Village has a penguin exhibit and have real penguins. Somehow they have the temperature regulated for the penguins. It was pretty weird to see penguins in Hawaii.

We then headed home where I had to get warm and we all at a little something before heading to bed for the evening.

Day 3 - Firecracker Sprint Triathlon

This morning I did the Firecracker Sprint Triathlon. When I found out it would be taking place while we were in Hawaii, I thought “why not”. There were brief moments this morning I second guessed my decision.

I woke up around 3:15 this morning,which really didn’t seem that bad since it was 8:15 back home. I ate breakfast, got ready and we were off to the race site. We weren’t exactly sure where that was and since I still had to pick up my packet, I wanted to get there early. Well, after going a round about way, we found the place and we WERE early. I was the first racer there.

When another racer arrived and went up to the transition area, I decided it was time to go ask about packet pick-up. I was able to get my “packet” which consisted of a t-shirt and a race number. That was it. No swim cap. We would have to provide our own so I was glad that I had brought one with me.

I went back to the car to drop off the shirt and get my race gear so I could rack my bike. Being the first one there, I had my pick of spots, so I chose the rack closest to the bike exit and, as always, got on the end. It didn’t take me long to set up my stuff so I had a lot of time to people watch as the rest of the folks started to arrive. And what I saw was interesting.

I’d say about 75% of the people came into transition with buckets of some kind. Usually these were shallow tubs. They also had gallon jugs of water. As I watched people set up I realized these tubs and the water were so that people could rinse their feet off at their transition spot. Hardly anyone at home does this. I started thinking that it might be because of the sand and starting wondering if I should have something there to wash my feet off with. Luckily Joel had a bottle of water he said I could have.

The other thing I noticed was that some people don’t know the rules of racking bikes and some people take up way too much room in transition. For instance, the lady next to me. She appeared to be an experienced triathlete. She had a nice tri bike with race wheels on it and had the fancy aero helmet. However, she was next to me and racked her bike with her wheel on the same side as me. That’s not correct. AND, she took up about 2 feet with her towel, which had her bucket to wash her feet off. Big no-no as well.

At this point I decided it was time to find some restrooms. I had to walk a little ways to get to them and it was during that walk that I saw the ocean for the first time. And it was at this point that I started to second guess why I was doing this. The waves were rolling in and there were white caps. Yikes! It almost looked worse than Florida. Oh well, I was here so I would at least give it a shot.

I walked back to transition and hung out until it was time to walk down to the beach for the swim start. During that time I learned there was a lady from New Jersey doing the tri. Her sister had gotten married on Saturday night and, like me, she decided since she was here to do the tri.

Soon enough it was time to have the pre-race meeting. There would be two swim waves – men would go off at 6am and the relay folks and women at 6:03. It would be a beach start. Other than that, we were just supposed to follow the course on the bike and run, both of which were out and backs.

At 6am the gun fired and the men ran into the ocean. I put my goggles on and got ready for my turn. When our gun went off, I took off running into the ocean with the other women. The water was a bit chilly, but did not seem as cold as the water at our resort. I stayed on my feet while the water was shallow and then went horizontal and started swimming. I had told myself this was for fun and I didn’t care what my swim time was, so I didn’t want to go out real hard. However, I didn’t want to be the last one out of the water either. I sighted frequently and as long as there were other swimmers around me I was ok.

The waves were not as bad as they looked, but every now and then I did get slammed by a pretty big one. Someone had said the swells were 2-3 feet which really isn’t that bad. Before I knew it I had reached the first buoy and made the turn to swim horizontal with the beach. This part was a little trickier. With the waves coming to one side, you had to breathe on the other side. Luckily I can breathe on either side so it didn’t bother me. The thing that did bother me was my goggles were fogging. I couldn’t spot the next buoy so I decided to stop and rinse them off. It was much better after that. I rounded the second buoy and headed toward shore. When I got out of the water and looked at my watch I was happy to see a 13:XX. (Race results show 13:19).

I started running up the beach and into transition. The way they had us go in and out of transition, I had a little run. I got to my bike, sat down to wash my feet off, put on my socks and shoes and then put on my glasses, gloves and helmet. I was ready to hit the road. (T1 time: 2:17)

As I got on the bike I realized I was in the small ring up front. Since this was a flat course I wanted to be in the big ring so I worked the shifters until I found a gear that felt good. The bike fit was ok, but I think the seat was still a little bit too high and honestly, it felt weird not being in aero bars. And it felt really weird not having a computer on the bike. I had no idea how fast I was going so I just went by how it felt. And if I saw someone a little ways ahead of me I tried to catch them. I tried to not let anyone catch me either, but a few did. Oh well.

As I was heading out on the course, I saw the lead cyclist come back. I glance at my watch. I had only been racing for 27 minutes. Wow! And there was no one behind him for a while. I just kept going along my merry way.

I finally hit the turnaround and started heading back. I would push for a while and then have fun for a while. I did have to be careful because this course had several USAT officials on the course. I finally got back to the start and dismounted the bike. (bike time: 40:55 for a 16.6mph)

I ran back into transition and quickly got ready for the run. (T2 time: 1:31)
The run was an out and back as well. I didn’t know if they would have mile markers or aid stations so once again I was going by perceived effort. I hit mile 1 and guessed based on the time I was around 9 minute miles. I knew I had it in me to go a little faster. I started trying to pass the person in front of me and then the next person. I could tell my pace was picking up. And I was glad I had my water. The only aid station was at the turnaround point. As I got close to the finish line I passed a couple more people, including one in my age group. I had no idea how many people in my age group were ahead of me, but if I could see one I was passing her. (run time: 27:11 for a 8:46/mile pace)

I crossed the finished line and stopped my watch. I was pretty happy with my time but had no idea how it would work out. I grabbed some grapes and a bagel and then checked the results they were posting. It appeared that even here there were fast women in my age group. I had come in fifth with a time of 1:25:12. We hung around for a few of the awards and it was frustrating to hear that the winner of the 35-39 age group had a time of 1:25:09. If I were two years younger I would have gotten
2nd. My age group always seems to have fast women in it. Oh well.

Doing a triathlon in Hawaii was fun and I was glad that I did it. It was a different experience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 3 - Quick Summary

I did the Firecracker Sprint Tri this morning.
Swim: 13:19
T1: 2:17
Bike: 40:55 (16.6mph)
T2: 1:31
Run: 27:11 (8:46/mile)
Total: 1:25:12

This was only good enough for 5th in my age group.

After the tri we went and got the kids and attempted to hike Diamondhead. The parking lot was full so we decided to go shop at the Aloha Bowl Swap Meet instead. After a few hours there is was back to the resort to eat lunch, grab the bike and return it to the bike shop and then head downtown for our segway tour.

The segway tour was lots of fun. But it's late and we are getting up early tomorrow to hike Diamondhead, so no details or pics tonight. Maybe I can get caught up tomorrow.

I have to say, by 8pm here, I'm ready for bed. My body still hasn't adjusted. Good night.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day 2 - Beach Day

Well, I made it until about 8:30 last night before crawling into bed. Unfortunately, just as I thought, that meant I woke up this morning a little after 2am. I got up, went to the restroom and crawled back into bed hoping for more sleep. I think I tossed and turned for a while but by 5:30 I couldn't take it. I had to get up.

I got dressed and waited untill it started getting light outside and then I headed out for a run. The temperature was definitely cooler than at home, but the humidity was there. I ended up getting in a 5 mile run.

When I cam back up to the room, I stuck my key in the door and got a yellow light. I tried again. Epic fail. My room key had gotten deactivated somehow (probably from being next to my phone in my fuel belt). I knocked on the door until Joel let me in (he had gotten up to do a short run and some weights in the gym and was in the shower when I got back).

One I got in the room, I rinsed off in the shower and then got ready to hit the beach. Knowing that Friday would be a long travel day, I had scheduled today to be a relaxing beach day at the resort. When the kids finally woke up and ate some breakfast we headed down to claim our spot on the beach.

Every time we go to the beach, I have the kids write the name of the place in the sand and get their picture with it. Before the beach got crowded I had them do this and took the obligatory picture.

I also got the obligatory "feet in front of the water" picture. HaHa!

Those of you who know me know that I do not like cold water. I thought the water was really cold, so I was happy to stay on the beach and relax. Dalton, however, stayed in the water or really close to it all day. He even dug himself a "chair" in the sand.

Around lunchtime we headed back up to the room. The kids ate some pizza bites while Joel and I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then we headed into town to pick up my rental bike. I'm doing a triathlon tomorrow and did not want to pay to ship my bike over here so I rented a bike. It's a nice enough bike but 1) I haven't ridden a road bike outside in over a year; it's been all about the tri bike; 2) the shifters are different than on my roadie; 3) there is no computer on the bike so I will have no idea how fast or slow I am going; and 4) the seat absolutly sucks; my rear was hurting just riding it in the parking lot to get it sized enough for tomorrow. Good thing the tri is just a sprint.

After returning from the bike shop, everone lathered up again and we headed back down to the beach. Unfortunately, the sun had decided to hide behind some clouds and the afternoon was mostly cloudy and cooler.

By 5:30 we were all ready to head to the room and fix some spaghetti for dinner so I could carb up for the tri. After dinner it was time to relax until bedtime. Tomorrow morning will come very early.

Day 1 - Travel Day

I didn’t sleep well last night, but when the alarm went off at 4:15 this morning, it didn’t really matter. We are heading to Hawaii today and THAT is what matters. I got up, got ready, finished packing the last minute stuff and ate breakfast. At 5:30am my parents arrived so that they could take us to the airport. We loaded the truck and were off. At this point, the kids still didn’t know we had been upgraded to first class.

When we got to the airport my dad dropped us off with the luggage and my mom and then he went to park. Since I wanted to use the first class line to check in, it was time to tell the kids. I told mom to get out the camera so she could get a picture of their surprised faces. I then told them that I had some news. I acted like it was bad news. When I said we were in first class the whole way they just looked at me stunned. They were definitely surprised.

We proceeded to the check in counter to check our bags. It was a painless process with no one in line in front of us. When we were done with that we went to get in the security line. It was really long for an early Friday morning. That’s when my dad, the seasoned traveler, came in the doors and asked why we were in line. He showed us the “priority line” that we were able to use since we were in first class. Wahoo. We skipped right ahead of everyone and cut in line. I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever been through security. After we found our gate, I headed out to get water for everyone. I told the kids I wanted it gone by the time we landed in Hawaii.

When it was time to board the plane, I think Dalton was the first person out of his chair and headed to the plane. We settled into our seats nicely. The flight attendants asked us what drink we wanted once we were in the air.When we took off they delivered our drinks along with a biscotti. I think the flight attendant liked the kids as she asked them if they wanted another biscotti. I think both accepted. Their first experience in first class was a success.

After deboarding the plane in Dallas we found out which gate we would be flying out of to Honolulu. Then we set out that way, hoping to find a Subway along the way. Even though we would get lunch in first class on the plane, I needed to make sure I had something to eat since I am vegetarian and can’t eat cheese. My guess was that any pasta on the plane would have lots of cheese. So, we grabbed Subway. From there, it was time to find the gate and wait until our flight to Honolulu.

When they called for first class to board,we headed that way. This time we were on a 767, so we had nicer seats – seats that reclined almost all the way flat. The kids were excited. They had to push the buttons to check out the way the seat moved. The flight attendant came through the cabin offering water, juice or champagne. Of course, I took the champagne.

Once we took off and were in the air, the seats started reclining. I got my kindle out and started reading. The flight attendants started food service. We got some warm nuts to begin with. I also had some wine at this point. The salad came next. I skipped the main course and brought out my Subway sandwich. That was a sight. I was eating a Subway sandwich and Doritos and drinking wine. Ha! I think both of the kids had the chicken hibachi and Joel had the cheese tortellini. And then it was time for dessert. Madison and Dalton had the ice cream sundaes. Since I’m lactose intolerant I got the fruit and cheese plate.

After eating lunch I was getting tired so I reclined my seat and closed my eyes. I’m pretty sure I slept some but it felt good to stretch out and relax – sleep or no sleep. Off and on for the remainder of the flight I would read for a little bit, then relax for a little bit, then read for a little bit, then relax for a little bit. Finally after 8 hours in the air, it was time to land.

The Honolulu airport is actually a really pretty airport. There is a beautiful courtyard and it has a lot of “open air” spaces. After following a military man toward the baggage claim we headed down the stairs to an awesome scene. What I had not realized was really how many military personnel were on the flight. Turns out there were a lot. And as they reached baggage claim, they were greeted with signs and applause from their families, friends, and fellow military men and woman.

Seeing the men greet their families after being gone on tour brought tears to my eyes. I saw one lady taking a picture of her husband and their kids, so I asked if she would like to be in the picture. I took their picture and asked how long he had been gone. She said he had been gone 8 months and was just home for a short break. It was a real experience.

We waited for our luggage to come and mine was one of the first out. However, when I grabbed it off the belt and sat it down it almost fell over. That’s when I realized BOTH wheels on one side had come completely off. I’m not sure what they did to my luggage, but it is no longer rolling luggage. It’s a bummer too, because I don’t usually use the larger suitcases and this was the first time I had used that piece. Oh well.

Once everyone’s luggage came out we caught the shuttle bus to the rental car agency to get our car. And boy was Dalton excited. He had hoped all along that we would get a Dodge Charger and that is exactly what we got. And it was even blue. I do have to say it was a challenge fitting all the luggage in but we got it done and were soon off to the resort.

We arrived at the Marriott timeshares and were told that only the smaller part of the unit was ready (we had a 2 bedroom). They gave us keys for that so we could drop our luggage in the room and then we explored the resort for a while. Once the other side was ready we unpacked and made a grocery list before heading off to get some food for the week.

Let me just say, I’ve heard about the high cost of food in Hawaii and it is no joke. Oh my! My beloved Doritos cost $4.89 for a bag that cost under $3 at home. A 12-pack of coke was $7.99. Ten flour tortillas were $3.49. Eggs were $2.99. Prego spaghetti sauce was $4.49. We bought breakfast foods, stuff to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a few things for dinner for the nights we will eat in and we spent more than we do for a whole weeks’ worth of groceries at home. We’ve decided we may be eating at Taco Bell a lot!

When we got back from the grocery store there were some beautiful flowers on the counter in the kitchen. My family had sent them to me as a way to say “thanks” for planning the trip.

We are trying to stay up for a while now to adjust to the time difference. If we were back home, I would have been in bed hours ago. But I don’t want to go to bed now and wake up at 3am. We’ll see how that goes.