Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hawaii - Oahu

A few weeks ago Ryan and I went on the trip of a lifetime!  Well, we sure hope it won't be a once in a lifetime, we'd love to visit again.  Regardless, we, along with Chris and Brenna traveled to Hawaii for 10 whole days.  One of the best (and hardest) parts of the trip was that we went kid free!  Both Chris and Brenna and Ryan and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversaries in 2015.  Since I was pregnant with Hazel for the first half of 2015, and had a newborn to sleep train for the second half, we postponed the celebrations a few months and decided to shoot for Hawaii for Spring Break, 2016.  My sweet, loving, thoughtful parents gifted Ryan and I their timeshare and late spring 2015, we submitted our request for locations in Hawaii.  It was a LONG waiting process and we were pretty sure we weren't going to be able to go when Thanksgiving came and went and we still hadn't heard if the trade went through.  About a week before Christmas though a letter came in the mail to my parents house acknowledging that our trade went through and we were headed to Hawaii just a few months later!

If you know me, you know that I'm a planner.  And not just a planner...a super far in advance planner so having only a few short months to sort out our itinerary, flights and activities felt like things moved at a whirlwind pace.  The timeshare we got was for 7 days in Kauai and we decided to tack on 3 extra days on Oahu because, well, the flight is 10+ hours long (so if you're going to go you might as well stay for awhile) and because I had visiting the USS Arizona memorial on my bucket list.  This year happens to be the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor so it seemed even more fitting that we should visit.

The memorial itself and the accompanying museum grounds are a very somber place.  Much like visiting the 9/11 memorial, you realize that you are not only exploring a place/point in history but also a grave site for many many individuals.  The tour starts with a 30 minute video of actual footage shot that day.  From there you take a ferry out to the memorial that sit on top of the USS Arizona.  In the above pictures you can see the fuel left in the ship on the day it sank, still leaking out of the hull.  It is estimated that the gas will continue to seep out for another 50-75 years.  Some believe that the fuel will stop leaking the day that the last survivor from that day passes away.

Interestingly, the names listed on the shorter walls to the left and right of the roped off area, are names of survivors who have since past and requested that their remains be placed in the ship along with those who fought and died on that day.

The demand to visit the memorial is insane!  Luckily we had the inside scoop from my parents who told us that we should arrive at least an hour before the museum opened (at 6am!) to wait in line for one of only 1500 free tickets they pass out each day.  We were literally the third group of people in line when we arrived there at 6am.  That meant that we were in and out of the museum by around 9 am and onto our next activity for the day - motorcycle/scooter rentals!

Good lord do I wish I had a video of Chris and Brenna riding those two red scooters behind us!  It was a sight to see, especially when we got on the main highway and they both had the scooters maxed to keep up with traffic in the slow lane.  I give them a TON of credit though....I would have been scared to be on those scooters at the speeds we were going, but they hung in there and we saw some awesome sights because of it.  I think being on the bike was one of Ryan's favorite activities...he was so excited to be back on a bike again and I had totally forgotten how much fun it was.  Renting these bikes are a perfect example of us finally doing all of the things we've not been able to do with the kids.  In addition to celebrating our anniversary, I was also personally celebrating that for the last 4 years we (I) have given up SO much to raise these little people.  I love them to death and I wouldn't take any of it back for a minute, but man, being kid free is sure fun too!

On that note, I should probably mention that about 4 days into the trip Ryan and I both started commenting on how other parents must think we were weirdos because we'd talk to all the little kids we saw, or randomly be smiling at parents with kids.  We missed those two little girls a TON while we were gone and while we are glad we got one last "adult" vacation under our belts, we both feel like we're going to be on the family vacation boat for awhile now.  In fact, we're already planning a trip to Disney.

While on Oahu we stayed outside of Honolulu on the far side of Diamond Head and we had some amazing views!  While Honolulu was crazy busy and reminded us of being on Lakeshore Drive or Michigan Ave, we were glad that we'd chosen a place a little bit outside of the hustle and bustle of city life.  Once outside of the city limits things slowed down significantly though, if I'm being honest, we really didn't feel like we were living the Island life until we arrived in Kauai.

This was the view from our balcony at the AirBnB we rented.  Our place included a grill we sat out on the balcony each and every night just enjoying the view and great company.  The only downside the the AirBnB was that it only had one bathroom.  With four adults, it took a good while to rotate through showers but we were only really on Oahu for two full days before heading to Kauai.

On our second full day in Oahu we decided to climb to the top of Diamond Head.  I have to say, the guide book was a little misleading on this one.  It said it was a two mile hike to the top and mentioned that it wouldn't be uncommon to see women hiking it in high heels.  Reading that I assumed this hike would be a walk in the park...a flat park that is.  Boy were we wrong!!  While not the most attractive picture, it sure gives you a sense of the climb to the top!  Neither Chris nor I enjoyed the dark quarter mile long tunnel we had to hike through either.

The views from the top though, they were spectacular!!  This hike was definitely worth the time and I would recommend it to anyone that visits the island.  I found that I became super dizzy while standing at the very top.  I think the heights, and the sun, got to me.  After feeling like I was about to hurl (nice, right?) I quickly climbed down a few steps to the shade and waited while the rest of the group finished looking around.  I was relieved when it was time to start heading back down.

After hiking Diamond Head we were pleasantly surprised by a farmers market right outside the park where we'd parked our car.  We all scarfed down delicious lunch before checking our watches and noticing that it was only 9:30 am!!  The time change from Chicago to Hawaii was 4 hours, so for the first few days we were up WAY earlier than necessary and often found that we were eating both a first and second breakfast. HA!  It did make for some early nights though!

More to come about our trip...stay tuned!

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