Friday, January 9, 2009

Aloha! And Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable holiday season. It was certainly full of joyous celebrations for my family and Devin’s, as we were engaged earlier this December! I could not have received a better gift this year. (That is…except for the electric fleece blanket…thank-you Mum! ;) )

After enjoying a white Christmas with my family here in Vermont, Devin and I jetted off to Hawaii for a vacation with his family. Enjoy a tropical feast for your eyes!

Oahu: What a fantastic adventure! We arrived in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, late Saturday evening and were picked up by our van guy. ‘Van guy?’ you wonder…While on Oahu, as we were without Devin’s family for two days, we decided to rent a vintage VW Westfalia Camper Van, fondly known as a “Westy”. We thought, ‘Perfect! Transportation and a place to sleep.’ Well…one problem after another and we had second thoughts about our hotel on wheels. Needless to say we laughed a lot, met some very kind people, and created some great memories.

After deciding we were wide awake at 4am (Hawaiian time is 5 hrs different than East Coast Time), we drove along the coast to a hiking trail. We made it to the top just in time for the sun to rise! A beautiful start to our first day of vacation. 

At one of the lookouts on the hike was this fence to protect people from toppling over the cliff. In random places were padlocks with quotes written on them. 

Hanauma Bay Park is a very popular beach amongst the tourists. (us!) It boasts the best snorkeling around! Aside from being VERY crowded, we did get to go snorkeling. The tropical fish are HUGE! We were even lucky enough to get to swim alongside a Green Sea Turtle. Such graceful creatures! We had an underwater camera with us....we'll see how those images turn out. 

Poor Roxie.
After our first Westy gave us minor trouble, we decided to name her Roxie, in the hopes it would keep her together. No such luck. Roxie broke down on a hill in the middle of traffic. Lucky for us, church was letting out and they absolutely wonderful people, in their white church clothes, helped us push Roxie up the hill and onto a side street. Our second Westy we named Grace. That one worked out much better!

After spending a better part of the day waiting for a new set of wheels, we hopped in Grace and cruised off the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It had been on the recommended list from a friend who had visited Hawaii before. What a neat place! We got to go on a train ride through the plantation and see all of the pineapples growing. Did you know that a pineapple is grown from the top (prickly part) of an old pineapple? Very cool! The definite highlight for me was the pineapple soft serve ice cream with crushed pineapple over top. Yum!

With insight from Devin's family who had stayed here a week before us, we camped at an Episcopal Camp on the West side of the island. The selling point was the promise of hot "showers". Though very primeval, the water was hot and afterwards we felt nice and clean. (Peek-a-Boo Devin!)

On our last day on Oahu we decided to visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. The museum was very educating and the trip to the memorial over the USS Arizona was very emotional. Each of the soldiers names in engraved on a wall inside. The thing sticking out of the water to the left of the white building is actually a piece of the USS Arizona. What amazed me was that oil still bubbles up even after 60+ years. 

Kauai: After our Westy Adventure on Oahu, we met Devin’s family at the Honolulu airport and island hopped over to beautiful Kauai. Not as populated or touristy as Oahu, but full of wonderful places to visit. The “winter” in Hawaii is known as the rainy season and we were spared none of the rain forest experience. We stayed at the beautiful Hanalei Bay Resort ( on the North end in Princeville. The spacious condo was a welcome change from our “cozy” Westy. Each morning we would “Search for the sun”, as it might be raining on the North end, but 25 miles South it was sunny! Our week on Kauai was full of great food, great times, and great (soon to be my new!) family.

Waimea Canyon was breathtaking. The largest canyon in the Pacific, it is a beautiful sight, even in the slight fog! The red is from the high iron content of the dirt. 

On our second day of Kauai we got an early start to hike along the Napali Coast. It had rained in the night so the trail was not only very steep, but muddy as well. 

The mud was quite beautiful in a way...many different colors!

This little bug was like a diamond amongst all the dirt. 

The trees grew tall and skinny around parts of the trail, creating almost a tunnel. 

Beautiful greenery was everywhere to be seen!

We could not resist showing off in all our muddy glory! (I'm on the far left.) 

In Hawaii, chickens and roosters are like pigeons in New York. They are everywhere! Every morning you can hear a handful of roosters crowing. Apparently one hen house got loose and that was the end of that! They are known as Hawaii's Un-Endangered Species. 

New Years Eve sunset. Makes you wish you were there...

Surf's UP! New Years Day greeted us bright and sunny (wow!). The family decided it was a perfect day for surfing. I opted out because, who would take pictures if I was falling off a surf board? Here everyone gets a little intro on land. Like their "sand" surfboards?

Out to the deep!

I simply love this sequence of my sweetheart. Devin is also very good to let me post this. Trust me darling, if that had been me, the pictures would have looked no different!

On his way to becoming a true surf bum.

My soon to be in-laws (plus Ron the teacher in black). Such a good looking family, even after two hours surfing!

The next day (oh, who knows what day it is!) we hiked from the other side of the Napali. It is a 16 mile trail that goes along the Napali ridge line and connects the North and South side of the Eastern side of the Island. There were some really cool caves at the beach we hiked too. 

I really like this picture because the points off the right side remind me of how the Napali coastline looked: many tall, pointy peaks. Very stunning!

Handheld self portrait time!

The view from our condo balcony. Each morning you could watch all of the surfers down at the beach catching the first waves. 

On our last day, Devin and I joined his sister and mom (dad and brother had flown home the day before) for a boat tour of the Napali Coast. (There are only a handful of ways to see the eastern coast of Kauai: by boat, by foot, or by helicopter.) Capt. Andy's Boat Tours were our guides and they did an awesome job! I cannot rave about them enough. The knowledge each of our three crew members expressed about the island and Hawaiian history was truly amazing!

On the tour we got to see Humpback Whales. They winter in Hawaii and summer in Alaska. One set of Humpbacks had a group of spinner dolphins swimming along with them. Here are the dolphins doing a little out of water demo. (I apologize for it being so tiny. Due to having to leave my long lens at home, I only had a 55mm at my disposal.)

Due to all of the rain Kauai had received, we were unable to go snorkeling due to the possibility of sharks and bacteria in the murky water. None the less, the crew found a nice, deep, clear spot for everyone to jump in. Here is crew member Solomon doing a back flip off of the boat. 

Devin and his mom were gracefully in-sync. 

I, on the other hand, was anything but graceful!

Thank you to the kind girl on the deck who watched my camera and took our picture! 

One neat thing (unusual too) about Hawaiian buildings is a lot of them do not have doors: they are just open to the air. This is the Honolulu Airport. 

Hawaii was certainly beautiful, however, as I was reminded the day after we flew home, you do not have to go far for a beautiful sunrise. Vermont:Home Sweet Home.

Up next: Kristen and Josh's Chicago Wedding!

*A special "Thank-You" to and Amanda of Orchard Cove Photography and Andy and Daria Bishop for helping me figure out the html logistics for larger images! It was truly appreciated.*

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