Saturday, June 10, 2017

#MCWlove in Oahu, Part 2

Here's the thing with houseguests, it can be a challenge balancing your visitor's vacation-of-a-lifetime experience and your own everyday-life one. The first half of their visit, the boys were still in school, still had homework. Jon was able to take a few days off but was working the rest of the time. I had some work to do for MOPS, a research paper that I'm assisting a former professor with, and just the normal laundry, cooking, and cleaning that it takes to keep up with a family of six.

For example, I had a photo due for The Fresh 20 and ended up cooking Shrimp Lo Mein at 9am, in the middle of a playdate, just to meet my deadline because there hadn't been an opportunity earlier in the week.
And then there's the social aspect. Which could be just me, but sometimes mama needs a social timeout. My kids calls it my "alone time," and it has little do with with having extra people in the house and everything to do with raising children in a very loud, talkative (million questions a day), but still always-around-me stage. If you have to ask me the same question a few times, if I'm staring at you and my eyes glaze over, or if I'm not staring at you because I've reached max threshold and cannot handle anymore incoming information ... it probably means I need some alone time.

And this is the beauty of having an extra car--or really just a second car because I'm more than happy to be stuck at home. Our guests can go out and experience whatever they want to, especially those things that we've already done time and time again, and I can stay back and nurse sick kids, fold laundry, or read a book. So if you're ever visiting and I offer to send you off on your own adventure while I hang back and "do nothing." Don't worry. It's not you, it's me.

But speaking of our every day normal life...

Day 7
Halfway through Micah and Carrie's visit was Sunday--which is church followed by Flag Football. It's not easy living so far away from our family so it's always a special treat when grandparents or aunts and uncles can attend something as simple as a school award ceremony or sports game. Jack and Jude had a great game and I know they appreciated the extra fans we had that day!

Certain grandparents have been asking for videos of the boys playing. This is not easy because many of these plays are very short and uneventful. It's also hard for me because I'm trying not to cheer and scream while holding the camera. But I did capture a little of the excitement. It's hard to see, but the first one is Jude giving the handoff to Jack, who nearly scored a touchdown but the ref didn't call it. And the second one is Jude passing the ball to Jack, who caught it and scored an actual touchdown. They're are really fun to watch and I'm actually learning a little bit about football too!


After a game in the hot Hawaii sun, we came home, "reprovisioned" (as my husband would say,) and headed to the West Coast. We don't make it over to that side of the island very often, and we had a few things on our agenda this visit. Mainly, picnic on the beach during sunset. Like me, Micah and Carrie had never seen the sun set on the ocean before (although I have plenty of memories of my brother and I waking up early on vacation to catch a sunrise!)

For Mother's Day, we came out this way so I could eat at one of my favorite restaurants and watch the sun set (if you haven't caught on yet, mama loves sunsets.) While here, we came across an interesting looking cave, noticed a pin on Google Maps for "Mermaid Tunnels" which sounded intriguing, and drove through a lovely little state park at the very end of the road. So these were all on our itinerary for this return trip.

What we didn't really consider was that this was a holiday weekend. Do ya'll know what Hawaii beaches look like on holiday weekends? Pretty much like campgrounds--one tent after another, people partying in their truckbeds, each one blasting a different tune from their monstrous speakers-on-wheels. But hey, I love the Hawaiians sense of "ohana," even if it means a parking spot is almost as rare as seeing a snake.

This was the first beach and much less crowded with tents than when we reached the state park.
We managed to find two spots (because, two cars. You guys, you don't know how badly I want one of those vintage VW vans that all the cool surfers drive out here. Except I want mine to haul actual people, not just beach gear) and set out to locate the Mermaid Tunnels.

These are sorta-secret. They're mentioned on a lot of blogs but a lot of those bloggers won't tell you their exact location. I'm not exactly sure why. I understand keeping some things a local attraction, but if you're going to mention it, or post it on Pinterest, you're just driving people to find it on another webpage that actually describes the location. In this case, there's not much by way of directions. You just head out to the rocks and keep walking until you come to a hole that leads to a cavern. Orrrrr, you go on a holiday weekend and look for a crowd of people standing in a circle on the rocks.

We had the advantage of the latter. The giveway were the two little girls (like maybe 10 years old??) jumping into the hole and coming out the other side. Then most of the crowd dispersed and we had the cave to ourselves long enough to check it out and snap a few pictures.

Unfortunately, it was not just high tide, but also King Tide, which meant the tunnel was full of water. Of course, this did not phase the 10 year old girls. They just swam under water to the other side. You know, just swam through rising water with a rock ceiling directly overhead. Also, just typing that makes me feel like I'm suffocating. Clearly, I did not attempt. Jon and Micah checked things out and the kids jumped down to see the tunnel for themselves. But I was more than willing to view things from dry land and put this on my list of "things to see during low tide and less crowds."

Once we had our fill of mermaid caves and tidal pools, we made our way past the partiers back to the cars to drive up the coast a bit more to Kaneana Cave (or Makua Cave.) This one is not a secret. Super easy to find, especially if you're gawking out the window at the scenery

Love these westside views!

Eventually, the mountains will turn brown and you'll run into a huge hole in the side of one. (Or you can just look for a big parking lot on the left and a sign for Kaneana Point.)

There's not a whole lot to see here, and the kids weren't too interested in hanging out very long. The plan was for Carrie and I to entertain the children on ground level while Jon and Micah hiked up the mountain to "Upper Makua Cave" (which appears on the internet to have some splendid views of the west coast.) But after a cursory exploration they decided to turn and rejoin us. And we didn't mind, because at that point a truck had pulled in next-door and it's passengers were blasting extremely loud explicit lyrics and engaging in questionable activity. Time to move on!

Our final destination was Ka'ena Point State Park. Apparently, the entire western half of Hawaii had the same plan because it was absolutely packed. We're talking tents, tables, grills ... one family even had their own porta-potties! But we came to enjoy a beach picnic and see the sun set and that is what we were going to do! So after driving to the very tip and back again, we were able to squeeze into two parking spots. Interestingly enough, most people hang out at the top of the beach and leave the rest wide open. Or maybe it was just the tide.

But just know that despite the calm and quiet appearance of these photos, there was some questionable activity occurring directly behind us. To the tune of "music we don't usually listen to." Tunnel vision and earmuffs, children!!

Never wants his photo taken.

Cloudy sunset, yet still beautiful!

Day 8
Sunday was a full day. But Monday was still a holiday and we wanted to make the most of it. Jon, Micah, and two of our guy friends had morning plans to hike Olamana--known locally as "Three Peaks." They just hiked the first peak because it's the least deadliest and the highest. I would love, love to do this hike but someone had to entertain the keiki. Also, I'm very supportive of my husband scoping out activities first and then taking me back later when he knows the lay of the land. So next time. Until then, we enjoyed the men's stories and photos.

Photo Credit: Micah
The guys needed a break after their momentous event, so we chilled at home before heading out to the beach later in the afternoon and meeting up with two other families for sun, surf, and burritos for dinner. No photos, because we do this so often I no longer think to document it.

Day 9
On the pontoon / Makin' waves and catchin' rays up on the roof / Jumpin' out the back, don't act like you don't want to / Party in slow motion / Out here in the open / Mm, motorboatin'
Another one of our favorite guest activities--renting a pontoon to take out to the K-Bay Sandbar. We invited our new Coastie friends that just moved here last week to join in the fun--they were also a part of church, the Olamana Hike, and dinner on the beach. We assured them that we are only this exciting because we have visitors in town and we will soon return to our normal, less-eventful lives.

I'm pretty sure I've blogged about the sandbar before. Or maybe we just do it so often it feels like I have. But it's all the same. Anchoring out at the sandbar, admiring the view of the island from the sea, swimming with the sea turtles, and paddle boarding as far as you can see.

We even had a rainbow this time!

At this point the kids, and more specifically the boys, were starting to droop. I think all the fun was taking its toll.

Jack and Jude spent half their time on the boat napping.

Day 10
The above is probably why I have no--ZERO--pictures of the next two days--the keiki were just wiped. I had two days of hours-long training to do (more on that later.) So Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie took kid-duty on Wednesday and Thursday morning. And it was much appreciated! The first day, they spent the morning at the beach catching minnows and playing in the waves. And that afternoon they took the car by themselves and visited another park at the south of the island.

Day 11
The second morning they explored the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens and fed the fish and ducks. Julia had gymnastics that afternoon and then our babysitter showed up so the adults could get a double-date night in Waikiki. We ate at a restaurant with ocean views and then walked around downtown at night--exploring the streets and touristy shops.

On the way home, we decided to see Tantalus Lookout at night. Except it was closed. So after a very long and windy drive up the mountain and back down again, we found a place to stop with comparable views of the city (and several parked cars containing people NOT there for the views.)

Day 12
Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie's final day--their flight was in the afternoon so we had the whole morning for one final hurrah. We decided to hike the Judd Trail since it's kid-friendly and we hadn't done anything "woodsy" during their visit.

Even the road to the hike was lovely!
This was a really fun hike with all sorts of varying terrain/scenery. The kids got a little whiny at the end (okay, Joci got a lot whiny), but I think it had more to do with over-extending them for 12 days and less to do with the hike itself.

Getting lost in the bamboo forest.
This tree grew right over a rock.

We love these trees! Rumor is Captain Cook brought them to the island because they're great for creating ship masts.
We literally had to drag her out of the forest kicking and screaming.
Afterwards, we came home to wash the mud off and grab lunch. Jon was working this day so the kids and I did the airport run. Is it just me or are airport drop-offs the worst place for goodbyes? It's probably just me. But I get so nervous trying to find a place to pull in and quickly unload. I barely remember the goodbyes. And Joci completely slept through it all.

But it's not goodbye, because hopefully we'll make it back to the east coast at one point during the next few years. And if not, we're already working on a list of things to do when Micah and Carrie come back for another visit. So instead, we say a hui hou--until we meet again!

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