Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hawaii Vacation Day 7

Today was Sunday.  We got up early and got ready for church long before we "needed to," so that we had time to made the drive back up to the Pali lookout - with the hope that we would get a good view this time.
It was beautiful, and historical, as this is the site where King Kamehameha I defeated Oahu's defending army and united the Hawaiian Islands as one. If you are interested in the history, enlarge the next photo and you can read about what happened here.

 Because you are standing above these huge cliffs, the views were amazing.  We were glad we made the drive back out.
  We drove back to Honolulu and still had just under an hour before church started, so we drove to see the statue of King Kamehameha and the Iolani Palace. 
King Kamehameha statue

Iolani Palace
The Iolani Palace is the only royal palace on US soil that was used as an official residence by a reigning monarch.  We had hoped to be able to tour the palace,  but we didn't have time to get there during business hours during the week, and the palace wasn't open for tours on Sunday, so we just walked around the grounds and took some pictures of the exterior.  (guess we'll  have to make sure we visit there on our NEXT trip, eh?)
Iolani Palace again, in the background.  The Gazebo on our right is where they held the coronation ceremonies
 We got to church to find that we were meeting in the historic Honolulu tabernacle.  What an BEAUTIFUL building!!!!  It was designed by the same architect that designed the Laie Temple.  The tower/steeple of the tabernacle was one of the highest points in Honolulu, second only to the Aloha tower, and it has a beacon light in the tower.  During the war, the pilots would use the beacon to help guide them in to Pearl Harbor.  
 There was a beautiful courtyard in the center, (see photo below) with all the classrooms, cultural hall, and offices built around it.  It was a little challenging to find where we were supposed to go for Sunday School, but we eventually got to the right room.  It was really beautiful!  I would TOTALLY  love to meet every Sunday in this building.  (Except if the lessons were too boring, I be super tempted to wander out and just sit under the Plumeria tree in the courtyard.  
This is the center courtyard...from where this picture was taken, chapel is straight ahead, cultural hall 1 (they have 2) is to the right, bishops office, clerks office, etc are to the left, and the primary room, library, and a couple of smaller class rooms are behind me.
this is the clerks office.  Since that is where Tim spends his "calling time" I took a picture.
The rest of our Sunday was pretty laid back,  ending with a lovely “Sunset Dinner Cruise” on the "star of Honolulu.  (we had pre-paid it, so it was nice to be able to go through the Sabbath and not spend any money.  (felt like we were at least trying to keeping the Sabbath Day holy; vacation style...)

Enjoying my "welcome aboard" Mai Tai (the non-alcoholic version, of course!)

Tim was part of the dinner entertainment.  (i was just trying to keep my feet (and stomach) under control,  so no hula for me

On the ship, just leaving the harbor - with the Aloha Tower in the background

yummy dinner... and I just have to say, while i don't like Poi, I really like the purplish Taro Rolls!

Today was also Halloween, and apparently in HI. they go NUTS with it.  (and it is NOT “G” rated!)  They closed off some of the streets in Waikiki and the people dress up in their costumes (or lack there-of) and just wander up and down the streets partying.  I had taken a Dramamine to  help me get through the cruise, so when we got home from the cruise, I took a quick soak in the hotel hot tub, then promptly fell asleep.  Poor Tim said that he heard the partying down on the street (screaming, yelling, etc...) going on until after 3 am, but I slept through it all.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hawaii Vacation Day 6

The first thing on the schedule for this  morning  was to  hike to Manoa Falls.  It was really fun to find that after about a 20 minutes drive from downtown Waikiki we found ourselves totally in a rain forest environment and you would never guess that just a few minutes away is the "big city."  When we got  there, we couldn't figure out where to park the car...  the signs were quite confusing.  We drove  up  the  hill to a  place called the Lyon Arboretum.  (the sign there were pretty clear that there was NO PARKING for Manoa Falls - but we were just hoping someone there could tell us where we were supposed to park.
This is Kona, the dog that apparently lives at the Arboretum.  He was a little sweet heart.
It was 8am and they didn't open until 9, but the guy happened to drive up at the same time we got there.  We asked him where were supposed to park, and in the course of the conversation, he said he'd open up early for us and we could explore the arboretum.  IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!  We had planned to  visit the Foster Botanical Garden, in downtown Honolulu, tomorrow; but we will skip that now.  As you can see from the pictures, we were  hiking through beautiful rain forest country, and we were the ONLY ones there.  
overlooking the arboretum at the begin of our adventure

some people might think this is just some cute little mushrooms growing on a tree stump.  I believe it a fairy umbrella shop.  so there!
see all those cute little fairy umbrella's???
It took us a couple hours - and almost 100 pictures of plants and flowers - to get back to the visitor's center. (the guy had said it would take us about an hour... little did he know how much I love plants and flowers!)  We hiked all around the Arboretum and up to a small waterfall, the Aihualama Falls.


We literally didn't see another person until we got back to the visitors center.  I TOTALLY recommend this place. (even if you go when they are regularly open and there are other people there.  It is BEAUTIFUL!!!

We also saw a whole bunch of wild Cockatoos – they are loud little buggers! 
if you click to enlarge you'll see a pretty good shot of one of the Cockatoos.  (same with the next photo)

This stop was not one that we had planned, in fact, we hadn't even  heard or read anything about it – but I am SO glad we "got lost" and found this fabulous treasure!!!! 

This video clip below is of Tim swinging on the giant 'vines' of a Banyan tree. The seeds germinate and send down roots to the ground.  (that's actually what the vine looking things are - roots seeking the ground)  He had been eyeballing them for several days, but never found some that were sturdy enough to swing on.  These suckers were MASSIVE.  After Tim, I tried to swing, and found that I couldn't even get my hands around the vine and grip enough to hang on at all!


After the Arboretum, the man at the desk gave us permission to leave our car in their parking lot and we walked down to the trail  head of the Manoa Falls hike.  It  was really interesting that we were so close to the botanical garden,  yet the hike was such a different experience.  Still very rain forest-y, yet way fewer flowers, and way more people.  It's a very popular hike for people of all ages.  The falls here were much taller, and the hike iss super MUDDY, (which makes it slippery!) but it was still a great hike!  Note to any future hikers - pick up a walking stick at the trail head.  you will be glad you did - especially on the way back down!

at the trail head
hiking up to Manoa Falls

at the falls

back at the car... I was MUDDY!
After the morning hikes, we went back to Waikiki for lunch at the Ala Moana Center food court (I was told  it was the best on the island and I'm telling you... it was MASSIVE!!!

(There were so many places to chose from  it was really hard to decide where to eat, but I ended up having a yummy YUMMY BBQ chicken Panini with a side Caesar Salad.)

After lunch we walked back over to the bay for  our surf/paddle boarding lessons.  I have to admit that I was not super excited about this particular activity that Tim planned.  I was a little  nervous about it actually – but  it was GREAT!
We were on HUGE boards (easier for beginners) so I was able to balance pretty well, I only fell off 2 times.  I was really proud of myself because our instructor said I had really good paddling form.  It was really fun and I would definitely do it again.  As an added bonus,  we got to see several sea turtles!  They were just hanging out in the bay swimming around and they'd just pop up out of the water to get some air then dive back down.  It was fun! 
Tim of course, was a natural, so he and our instructor went out beyond the breakers to try to catch some waves.  It was a TERRIBLE  location to try to surf – the coral was only about  4 feet under them, and they both ended up getting come coral “slivers”  in their toes.
you have to enlarge to seethe little coral slivers in poor Tim's big toe :(

After stopping back at the hotel for a quick call home to the kids, a shower, and a trip to the ABC store  to buy tweezers and sewing  kit (for removal of the aforementioned slivers),  we for a walk down to the beach to hopefully catch some photos of a good sunset.  Not a super amazing sunset, but it was still the beach (which I LOVE), the sunset was OK, and we watched these cool black crabs climbing on the rocks.  They were SO fast! 

 these two picture below make me laugh.  they were taken one right after another, just using different settings (none of which I was even aware of on my camera.) The guy we snagged to take the picture knew more about my camera than I did.  I think it is funny that one looks like it was taken in the dark of night, and you can just barely make out Diamond head in the background, and the other looks like it is daytime.  Needless to say, after seeing these pictures I did a bit of playing with my camera trying to figure out how in the heck to work it!

As we were getting ready to walk back to the hotel, we happened to see this guy packing up his trained parrots. (used for tourist photo ops.)  We paid a small fee and used our own camera and got these fun pictures.  It was so GREAT!!!  I was totally loving it!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hawaii Vacation Day 5

Our first planned stop for this morning was to check out the view (and hike) at the Pali Lookout.  We got there to find ourselves in the middle of a HEAVY rainstorm.  It was just pouring down.  We ran out to the lookout just in case, but we really couldn't see anything at all - - and we got really wet in the process.
see - that big wall of clouds behind Tim was our "view" over the Pali Cliffs
 From there, our next stop was the Valley of the Temples.  
It was absolutely beautiful and serene.  The history of  the area (as I understood it from the tour bus driver who drove us out to the PCC on Wed.) was that when all the people  moved here from their various places of origin, the Hawaiian government designated this particular valley for them to build their temples or holy places.
Now it is home for the various temples, memorials, and a cemetery. (including a Pet Cemetery, out by the main road.)

The Byodo-In Temple was so amazing.  I just LOVE Japanese gardens, they have such a calming effect and are so peaceful!  

 Next was a stop at the Macadamia nut farm.  They have a tour there that sounded really nice,   but it sounded a lot like the things we had already seen at the PCC, plus it was  it was $20 per person, plus we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to visit the LDS Temple open house in Laie and the PCC (again) – which gave us several  good reasons to skip on the tour.  We did get to taste lots of YUMMY samples.

Next stop was the Kualoa Ranch, another place that offers some really cool tours (like the 4-wheeler tours back up into the filming locations from Jurassic Park and Lost...) but time and financial limitations meant we just looked around a bit, then were back on the road towards Laie.

Along the way we were able to catch glimpses of the gorgeous valley's (and shores) where scenes from Lost, Jurassic Park, Fantasy Island, Karate Kid 2(and many others) were filmed.  We also took pictures of the Crouching Lion (Elvis) and the "Sleeping Giant" (Hawaiian Legend about a boy who kept falling asleep when he was supposed to be guarding the fishing pond)
click to enlarge, then look closely and you may find the "Crouching Lion." (he's right in the center of the photo)

click to enlarge and then look closely - and you may see the outline of "the sleeping giant."  he has his feet down towards the ocean and he is sleeping with his mouth open - (hope that helps you find him)
 Next stop was the Open House  of the Laie Hawaii LDS Temple.  While  I wish  the temple had been dedicated so we could have done a session – this was the next best thing.  I felt AWFUL that we were so  under dressed (and looking ragged due to the rains all morning) – but we fit right in with many of the other visitors.  The temple was such a BEAUTIFUL and peaceful place,  inside and out!

We finished out the day a the PCC.  They have a thing where if you go one day,  you can come back within 3 days at no cost.  (a bounce back kinda thing.)  I seriously wondered if it was worth going back, since I felt like we saw everything on our Ambassador, guided tour, the first time we were there.  After visiting again, I've decided that 2 days was PERFECT!  We were able to self-guide ourselves  through the different villages.  We saw two shows that we missed on the tour (New Zealand and Fiji) as well as try a few of the activities that we skipped on the tour.
 I got to make a Kukui nut bracelet (that I LOVE!)
 and we played some  Hawaiian games that were similar to bowling and checkers. (I beat Tim at the  bowling one (beginners luck), but lost both times at the checkers-like game.)  

We took the opportunity to walk through many of the houses in the different villages.  It was nice not having kids with us, so we could take as much time as we wanted, reading the plaques and learning all sorts of interesting things.  (like in one culture when the daughter becomes "of age" they partition off an end of the house for her.  The boys?  They would build a new house for them and they are basically  kicked out of the family house.

If I remember correctly, this is a "family house" in either Tahiti or Tonga.  I loved all the Tapa cloth - made from bark.

This guy was HILARIOUS!  He did the show in "Samoa" and had the audience just laughing the whole time!  I didn't get a good photo the 1st day, but on the 2nd day we were there I happened to see him just sitting on the grass weaving, so I took the opportunity to get a picture.
In "Fiji" we got some 'tattoos'.  Here is Tim with his "warrior" tattoo (and expression)

this is a replica of a "woman's work" house in Hawaii

We ended the evening with the “haunted lagoon” ride.  It was fun.  
They took a great picture of us with some "characters," including the dude from Avatar, Yoda, Capt. Jack Sparrow and more, but we just couldn't bring ourselves to pay yet another $18.00 for picture.  So we just settled for a photo next to this crazy lookin' thing!


 USoSL p.s. - (I may someday get around to cropping the photo so you can see the lions better, but not today... )  These stone lions were guarding a family plot in the Valley of the Temples