Oahu, Hawaii – 5/24/16 – 6/4/16
We couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit Lori, Cody, and Tess while they were stationed at Hickam AFB in Oahu. It was a long wait though, as we purchased very affordable airfare last summer. Planning was minimal as we had a place to stay, local tour guides, and plenty of time. Fortunately it was a long holiday weekend, Lori took time off of work, and Tess just finished kindergarten. Miles had been counting down the days to see Tess for weeks. His last day of school was Monday and Jean worked that Monday night. We picked up Jean from work on Tuesday morning and headed right to DIA. An easy two hours to Phoenix, then 6.5hrs to Honolulu in very uncomfortable seats. We landed around 6pm and after several minutes of standing on the plane the pilot came over the speakers and said the jetway was stuck! Miles was about to claw his way out of the plane and Tess was in the terminal ready to fix the jetway herself. Once off, the humidity hit us instantly and soon we were getting hugs and lei’s from Lori and Tess. A short drive along the H3 to their house in Kailua. The steep jungle cliffs are amazing as the highway goes literally through the Ko’olai mountain range. Cody had steaks on the grill, handed us mai tai’s and we had a great night of catching up.
Wednesday was a total chill day. Lori and Cody worked, and we hung around the house getting settled then taking a walk down to the Kalama beach, just a few blocks away. Miles and Tess played non-stop. Fun was had in the waves and sand with the Maku-lua islands in the distance.
Thursday we headed out early to get in line at Pearl Harbor. You’ve got to get their early as most tickets are reserved and the rest are first come, first served, to see the USS Arizona Memorial. Fortunately we got tickets for the 8:45am shuttle boat. There is a short film to watch about the history of Pearl Harbor then the shuttle takes you over to the floating memorial over the sunken USS Arizona. Only the mooring and gun turrets are above water, but you can see the eerie outline and shadows of the rest of the ship. The wall of names of those who died on 12/7/41 is humbling. Lori picked us up later and took us to the beach on base. We played in the ocean and used the stand-up paddle board while watching planes and F22’s take off from the nearby runway. A submarine even went by! While driving through base, there are several building that still have the bullet holes all over them from the Pearl Harbor attack. Next was a beach bbq for Lori’s work, then appetizers and margarita’s at Cactus, then back to the house for dinner. The kids were whooped and off to bed soon while we played cards.
Friday started with a humid beach run. We went to the Tiki Bar for lunch then through Waikiki and to the Ala Moana beach. This was a great beach with low waves, Diamond Head in the distance, and sea turtles. We paddled the stand-up paddle boards around turtle spotting then Miles and I played “log roll” while trying to knock each other into the water. Next we took advantage of Cody’s membership at the Elk’s club to enjoy some poolside mai tai’s then ocean-side sunset dining.
Saturday morning we hiked up Ka’iwa Ridge near Lanikai beach park to a “pillbox”. Basically an old concrete bunker used as a lookout. The hike was short, steep, and awesome! Great views all around. Back at the house, I changed into running gear and ran to, then up, the ridge. I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much. Of course we went to the beach next. Miles tried boogie boarding and “scorpioned” several times while the waves broke under him. Hysterical! Cody and I made a trip to a new brewery and the grocery store then we made stone-fired pizza before a backyard movie with Cody’s projector and 12’ blow-up screen.
Sunday morning Cody took Jean and I around the SE corner of the island to the Koko Crater hike (Hawaii’s version of The Incline). It was a perfect workout with great 360 degree views at the top. Awesome! Even saw a whale. On the way back we drove through Bellows AFB and made stops at Halona beach blowhole/overlook, “break neck” beach, and past Sea Life Park (where 50 First Dates was filmed).
Monday we drove up highway 83 to the North Shore past Kualoa Ranch (Jurassic World) and stopped for some views and lunch in the crowded town of Hale’iwa. Plenty of traffic due to construction. Unfortunately the waves were not over 20’, which is pretty common in Waimea where big wave legendary Eddie Aikua is from. Next was the tourist trap of the Dole Plantation. The “Dole Whip” was great, the train ride was horrible. But at least Cody and I got to suffer together.
Tuesday was another run up Ka’iwa Ridge after a torrential downpour. After lunch in Waikiki, we dropped off Lori for her anniversary night with Cody, while we took the kids to the Bishop Museum. They had some good displays of Hawaiian culture and volcanoes, then a relaxing movie night at the house.
Wednesday started with yet another Ka’iwa Ridge run then we went into Waikiki to pick up Lori. While walking through the hotel courtyards we stumbled upon the Polynesian Cultural Center show. Much better than the $100/person display on their grounds! We went to the legendary Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai beach bar. The location was great, the waiter was the worst in the world. Next, of course, was the beach. The wind was really kickin’, causing big waves that really tossed us around. While about knee-deep I felt something like barbed wire around my leg. I noticed a thin blue line and jumped out of the water. The stinging was intense, and there was my first encounter with a Portuguese Man-of- War. About 20 minutes later as my burning was subsiding, Jean jumped out of the water and was also stung. That’s enough of the neighborhood beach for us!
Thursday was our last full day in town, and Lori saved the best for last. We got up kinda early again and off to the SE part of the island. We did the Lighthouse Hike to Makapu’u Head, then got one of the last parking spots at Hanauma Bay. There was a short film to watch, then the quick shuttle to the bay. WOW!!!! Despite the crowds, this place was awesome. We snorkeled and saw tons of colorful fish and coral. It was Miles first time, and he loved it. Plenty of sun, the kids playing in the sand/water, and more snorkeling soaking in the views. Once the sun got intense, we took the shuttle back up and headed to the Kona Brewing Company for lunch, then to the famous Uncle Clay’s House of Aloha for shave ice.
Friday morning I jogged up Diamond Head dodging tourists while the kids enjoyed their last day together and Jean did homework. Since we loved the Ala Moana beach so much, we went back there. We forgot sunscreen, so I went on a hunt while Jean kept the kids from getting burned. Jean spotted the only sea turtle this time, and Miles and I invented a new game…. “Log roll death match”, the log roll game but with Miles jumping up and down and taking runs at me. We laughed so hard the we both fell off over and over. We picked up Lori from work (after going to the wrong AFB entrance) and back to the house to pack and chill. It was hard to say goodbye, but it was a great trip with memories of a lifetime. Our flight took off at 10:20pm and fortunately, Miles slept the entire 6 hours. Jean and I weren’t so lucky. Saturday afternoon we settled back into our house to try to reset to Colorado time. It was an amazing trip with great family and the best hosts that we could’ve asked for.