Wednesday, June 7, 2017

#MCWlove in Oahu

Now that we are residents of one of the most beautiful places on earth, people remind us all the time to expect visitors. Lots and lots of visitors. Instead, the majority of our guests have consisted of lizards and cockroaches... and a total of three visits from the grandparents. I think this is because most of our friends are in the throes of bearing babies or deep in the trenches of home ownership and renovations--two life phases that we feel very far removed from these days!

It also doesn't help that flying here is spendy! Honestly, if you had given me an $800-$1000 plane ticket 18 months ago and asked me where I'd want to go, it wouldn't have been Hawaii. It would've definitely been somewhere east of U.S. I'd always assumed our 50th state was for people looking for resorts and sunshine and pristine beaches. What I've learned over the last 11 months is that, while Hawaii is certainly all those things, it's also so much more. It's rugged and varied and thrilling ... and I'm fairly certain that after four years of living here, we'll never run out of things to do. (I'm also fairly certain that it won't be easy to return to some place normal after this, like D.C. I think we're going to have to plan a step-down tour before we move back to the east coast!)

And while we don't exactly have the best accommodations to offer (i.e. sharing a bathroom and wall with four small children), we try to make up for it with plenty of adventure out of the house. So we were pumped when Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie found came out to explore our little bit of paradise with us this month!

Here is a not-so-brief overview of all we were able to accomplish in 12 days.

Day 1: Arrival
Jet lag is a beast, my friends. Micah and Carrie arrived around 3pm our time, which is 9pm East Coast time. In other words, just as our little brood is ramping up for the witching hour our guests are winding down for bed. So today's goal was to keep everyone awake long enough to get just a taste of Hawaii life. Since Jon works down in Honolulu, he's usually the one doing airport pickups. And what is quickly becoming our post-flight MO is a stop at the Pali Lookout. I love this place--it's easy to access, free to park for military, and has the most amazing views of the windward side of the island (as well as some sketchy history)--the perfect introduction!

Photo Credit: Micah
After a rousing welcome by The Junior J. Crew, we enjoyed an early dinner and drove down to Kailua Beach for an evening walk on what has occasionally been voted a Most Beautiful Beach in the World (although not recently--thanks tourists.) Which brings us to another favorite guest activity--Jeep rides!

Since we can only fit one extra person in our minivan, we become a two-car family whenever we have visitors. But I think we can all agree cruising around Kailua in our island beater is much more authentic than being jammed in the backseat of a minivan with all the sand and goldfish from our previous beach visit!

Day 2
One avantage to the jet lag is that it suits our schedule better. We are very much early to bed, early to rise kinda people. My kids have rarely slept past 6am since we moved here. And falling asleep before 10pm isn't highly unusual either. So Jon took a day off of work, the boys went to school, and the rest of us we're out of the house and heading to the Pillbox Trail before 9am.

I was pretty pumped about this excursion. Jon's done it twice, but after nearly a year here I had yet to make it! (Our first attempt was way too muddy for the kids. And Jon decided to take the boys on his own the second time to make sure the girls could handle it.) It was a little challenging in a few spots but Julia was able to do the entire hike on her own. And Joci enjoyed the whole experience from the backpack carrier.

It was a beautiful morning but you could see the clouds rolling in from out to sea. So we had a few rain squalls once we reached the top, but it was much more preferable to hiking in the heat of the day!

And the views were everything I had hoped they'd be, but I actually liked the ridge hike even more! The mountain ridges here are amazing to see and hiking alone one's edge was even more of a thrill!

Photo Credit: Micah
Julia had speech that afternoon and the boys were due home from school, so Jon took Micah and Carrie out for a scenic exploration down the southeast coast--one of our favorite drives peppered with gorgeous mountain views, windy highways, scenic overlooks, blowholes, and cliffy coasts.

Sharing sweet potato noodles!
Day 3
Jon was back to work and both boys were still in school so we went with a low-key option--the Mokapu'u Lighthouse Trail. This is paved, which makes it ideal for the double stroller. But it's also uphill the entire way. Good thing Uncle Micah was in the mood for a workout!

View looking down the southern coast.

View looking up the east coast.

Well that's one way to search for whales...

Looking down at Tidal Pools.

From the top of the trail you could look down and see the Mokapu'u Tide Pools. They looked fun and I'd never been before, so we made them a stop on the way home.

View looking back at lighthouse.

"Cheetah" and "Duck Baby" catching some rays.

We came home in time to pick up the boys from school and then took Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie to the kids' favorite spot for minnow catching, kite flying, and drainage ditch floating. Ew. I mean, Hawaii can't ALL be beautiful.

Day 4
While laying out in the sun by the drainage-ditch-turned-minnow-pool the day before, the boys' principal called to (a) inform me no one was in trouble and (b) invite us to the end-of-year award ceremony where Jack would be surprised with the certificate for "Resiliency." So Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie got to experience some "real life" fun that included sitting in a non-air-conditioned Hawaii school cafeteria and elementary school "silent applauses." See? We've got your full vacation experience covered!

Proud of this kid! I know elementary school awards are kind of a joke, but this kid really has shown resiliency over the past year and I so appreciate that his teacher noticed!

Jude actually go the award for "Responsibility" earlier this year--which also fits him perfectly!
 Our original plan for the rest of the day was to hike Diamond Head and visit Tantalus Lookout. But we decided to give our legs a break and take a less touristy route up and about the North Shore. Unfortunately, the award ceremony took up a big chunk of our morning and we didn't have a chance to see everything on the list. But we did get to:

Stop for coffee at Green World Coffee Farm ...

Sample Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation ...

Drive through historic Haleiwa and shop at the HE>i store, and then enjoy a picnic lunch at Waimea Bay while watching the more adventurous kids jump off Waimea Rock.

We took the long road home, but only had enough time to pass through Sunset Beach and Shark's Cove. The drive from the North Shore down the eastern coast is beautiful itself... it will also make you wonder at the legality of building a road so close to the ocean. (The spray from the waves actually hits the road!) Both girls were asleep by this point and I texted a friend quick to see if she could watch the boys if I came to school pick-up 10 minutes late. So we drove by Kualou Ranch and Uncle Micah got a quick photo-op of Chinaman's Hat. I had been hoping to check out the Macadamia Nut Farm but we were just out of time at that point.

Julia was supposed to have gymnastics that afternoon but I noticed she was shivering while getting dressed in her leotard. Not a good sign. Turns out, she developed a fever sometime between swimming with the sea turtles at Waimea Rock and arriving back home. Joci had a similar 12-hour fever just a few days before so at this point, instead of "what is it?" it was more of a question of "who's next?"

Day 5
Turns out, it was Jude. The boys' last day of school and Jude stayed home sick. He ended up sleeping most of the day, so Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie took the girls to the beach while I stayed home and caught up on laundry, made dinner, and delivered food and loaner goods to our new Coastie friends that had just arrived on-island that afternoon. It was a good break because things were about to amp up for the holiday weekend!

Day 6
One of the things our family hadn't done in Hawaii yet was to visit Haunama Bay. This is one of the Top Rated Things to Do on Oahu so it's amazing ... and also a huge tourist attraction. And ya'll know how I feel about crowds. Our plan was to check it out during the week but we couldn't fit it in around Jon's work schedule. So because it was a Saturday on a holiday weekend, and because the preserve only has a limited number of parking spaces that fill quickly, we left the house at 6:15am and arrived there just after they opened at 7:00. (More advantages to jet lag!)

It ended up not being as crowded as I worried--despite the fact that buses of tourists from Waikiki were rolling in every hour! And it was such a cool little volcanically created cove! I knew snorkeling would be great there but I didn't know that you could experience close encounters with fish without the snorkel. They literally just swam around our toes in just a few inches of water! It was also super calm and great for the kids!

Of course, the boys were much more adventurous and took to snorkeling right away. It's so fun to see how quickly our kids have been able to pick up on things while living here--bike riding, swimming, boogie boarding, and now snorkeling. They're always up for a new adventure!

Photo Credit: Micah

Photo Credit: Micah
That sums up the first half of Uncle Micah and Aunt Carrie's visit. Stay tuned for more "never been done before" adventures, including the "high point" of the week. Tee-hee. *cheesy smile*

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