Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Week on the Mainland...

So, Michel and I have been back in the continental U.S. for a week. Technically, a week and a day by the time this post goes up, but whatever...

Here's what we've been up to:

1. Going back to work (boo)! Michel had to go back on Monday right after we got back. I went up to the school to work a couple of days on my own, but officially went back on Friday.

2. Getting back into working out - we hiked a lot in Hawaii, but never ran. Running has been horrendous, but I blame the hot, humid weather that I've had to endure while running

3. Getting together with Michel's parents last weekend, and my family yesterday to pass out their souvenirs - all were a big hit!!

4. Got together at Starbucks with my best friend one last time before we both start back at work

5. Got together for a fun lunch with my co-workers

Lots of get-togethers with friends and family one last time before we all go back to work. It's been a WONDERFUL summer that went by much too quickly, but left us lots of fun memories!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wrap-up of our Hawaii Vacation

So, day 10 for us in Hawaii consisted of nothing more than packing up all of our things, going to the beach behind our cottage for the last time (we saw 2 seaturtles in the water that day...we hadn't seen any fish or turtles in the water the whole time that we were there!!!), and a third and final time of eating at Teddy's Bigger Burgers (told you it was delicious!). After lunch, it was off to the car rental place to return the car, and then shuttled to the airport to make the tedious trip back home.

Our vacation was definitely one to remember! We had so much fun hiking, snorkeling, shopping, going out to eat, leisurely swims in the ocean, laying out on the beach, and relaxing in our gorgeous cottage while watching TV and listening to the sound of the ocean waves.

I'll never forget our vacation to Oahu, Hawaii!!!

Here's a link-up to each day of our vacation. Mahalo for reading about our vacation!

Hawaii Day 9 - Waterfall Hike

Day 9 in Hawaii consisted of our fourth, and final, hike. This one was with a tour group, so there were about 12 of us and our tour guide. We saw some cool things on this hike, but honestly, I think we were all hiked out by this point. Michel agreed. When we finished with it we were just ready to go to the beach and relax. Don't get me wrong, we still had fun! It definitely wasn't one where we needed to go with a group.

Along the way we got to see another spot where Jurassic Park was filmed.

This is where a T-rex jumped out of the trees.

Here's the waterfall!

It wasn't quite as big and magnificent as what we were hoping for. It hadn't rained here in quite awhile (though you wouldn't know it from the mud that we hiked through), so the waterfall wasn't as big as what it has been in the past.

After we saw the waterfall and got back to our car we were ready for lunch! So we decided to go to Teddy's Bigger Burgers again! It was still as delicious as it was the first time that we ate there. I wish there was one in Texas...

Anyways, the rest of the afternoon consisted of laying on the beach, and boogie boarding for the last time.

I already miss "our" was so beautiful and private and serene!

I'm ready to hit the waves!

I get cold in the water much quicker than Michel, so I always got out 10-20 minutes before he did to lay out and warm up. 

Champion Body Boarder right here!!
So, as I'm writing this back at home in Texas I'm sad to not have the gorgeous scenery surrounding us anymore, and definitely sad to not have the 85 degree temperatures with us. But I have awesome memories and pictures from our trip, and am so grateful and fortunate that we were able to go and enjoy it!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hawaii Day 8: Koko Head Crater Trail Hike

Apparently, Michel and I were feeling especially "hiker-ish" today because we decided that we could take on the Koko Head Crater Trail. It looks like this:

Yeah, we climbed to the top of that thing! The day started out kind of crazy. We, unfortunately, had to move out of our awesome 2nd floor cottage back to the studio cottage that we had originally paid for. It's nice, but I got VERY spoiled in the big cottage! Those views just really can't be beat! Anyways, we were told that the cleaning lady didn't come until 10:00 and she would clean our cottage that we would be moving into first, and then we could move into it. It was about 8:30 in the morning and I was already going stir-crazy, so Michel and I decided to go for a long walk on the beach. We were gone for about an hour and then came to wait until we could move. However, the cottage owner came in and said that if we just put all of our belongings together he would move everything for us and that way we didn't have to spend half the day waiting around inside. This sounded great to me until we found out that we had to stay gone until 3:00. We already knew that we wanted to hike Koko Head, but that would take an hour or two - tops. We also knew that we would be really sweaty and gross afterwards without the ability to take a shower. So we decided that we would still hike Koko Head and pack up a beach bag with bread, peanut butter, and chips for lunch, our swimsuits, and go swim at a beach that wasn't the one right outside of our door.

I didn't really know that much about Koko Head prior to the hike. Michel had just said that he had seen it and thought it would be fun to do. He did tell me that it increased in elevation by 1200 feet, but apparently that meant nothing to me at the time. So off we went!

Our view from the bottom looking up - last time to change our minds!
This trail was MUCH harder than Diamond Head - not only did it increase in elevation by over twice as much as Diamond Head, the trail itself was less structurally sound. There was old railway-looking tracks outlining the hike, but that didn't make it easier. The wooden planks were loose or built at an angle - it's hard to describe. Either way, it was a tough workout!

We're about at the halfway point here. Oh, and the first half of the climb was the easy part. It got harder! Michel even asked me if I wanted to go back, but I was determined to finish it!

This isn't even the top of the trail, but look at how much cityscape you can see just from the halfway point! Hawaii Kai is in the foreground and Diamond Head and Honolulu are in the background.

Whew!! This is hard work! I need a breather! I was so busy catching my breath that I had no idea that Michel was snapping pictures!

Finally!! We reached the top!!

The view was amazing!!
I smiled until I thought about the fact that we had to go down the same way that we came up...

One more gorgeous view before heading down
Going down was definitely just as treacherous, if not more so, than going up. It's easier to pull yourself UP onto an unsteady surface than it is to get your footing and jump DOWN onto an unsteady surface. Needless to say, it was a FABULOUS workout with amazing views, but don't ever ask me to do it again! My legs still hurt a day later!

After finishing our climb we headed over to Hanauma Bay. Our cottage owner raved about the snorkeling to do at Hanauma Bay and we still had over 2 hours to kill, so we decided why not?? Apparently everyone loves Hanauma Bay because there is a sign posted from the main street that says if the parking lot to park at the beach is open or closed. It only costs $1 to park, but it's $7.50 per person! What??! At a beach??? Oh well...we decided we wanted to see what the hype was all about. So we get there and stood in line for half an hour to pay our $15 admission fee! We're already ticked, but we're not leaving now. At this point we're given an admission ticket for a short video that we have to watch before we're allowed to enter the beach! Seriously?? Now we're getting ridiculous....  In fact, the video doesn't even start for 15 minutes, so we'll wait around some more. The video just outlines the fact that Hanauma Bay is a nature preserved. Much of this part of the ocean is made up of coral reef and not to touch any marine life that we may see, or encounter. I'm so glad that I watched a video of this; otherwise, I may have been tempted to touch an eel (that was said with much sarcasm btw)! So after our 10 minute video briefing of the history of this bay and how to swim with sealife, we're finally allowed to enter. $30 for snorkel gear and two hours (from the time we finished our hike and headed to Hanauma Bay) later....we enter the water! Sadly, this snorkel trip was disappointing. While we saw a TON of coral reef, and had to be careful in where we swam to not touch it or accidentally swim into it we saw very few fish out today. So all in all we paid about $50 for a one-hour swim and snorkel day. Definitely not worth it. But hey, we did see another part of Oahu, so I was happy about that.

We came home and showered and changed to have our last dinner out on the island. Again, this was by suggestion of our cottage owner, we went to Roy's. Apparently there is one in Plano as well, but I've never been and our cottage owner promised it was good. And by his suggestion I branched out of normal things that I eat to try the macadamian nut-crusted mahimahi. I'm not a huge fan of fish, but I knew that this was a fish only found in Hawaiian waters, so it would be much fresher than anything I've ever eaten. It was delicious!! I was so glad that I ordered it! I cleaned my plate, and finished before Michel! That usually indicates that I was really hungry!

All in all, a very fun day! Though our snorkeling was a bit of a bust we still had a great time!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hawaii Day 4 - Diamond Head and our First Luau

I got to looking at all of my posts and realized my numbering of our days somehow got off, and I was missing a day. I had completely forgotten to post about our climb up Diamond Head and our fun luau that we went to!

Good morning Oahu!! Why can't Texas have gorgeous sunrises like this??

The only thing that Michel and I had on our agenda for Saturday, day 4 in Hawaii, was the luau that was set for that evening. After waking up (at sunrise for absolutely no reason whatsoever) and eating breakfast we both decided that we needed to come up with something to do that morning/early afternoon, so we decided to go for a climb up the Diamond Head Crater trail. It's only a 0.8 mile walk, but it increases over 500 feet in elevation, so it wasn't an easy walk, but it wasn't extremely difficult either. So we set off to do it.

Again, it wasn't incredibly difficult, but it wasn't incredibly easy. It's a somewhat-paved path for part of the time, but then it became rocky. Yet we still saw elderly people with their canes going up that path, small children, and everyone in between. What really gets me are the people who wear flip-flops...maybe I have bad feet, but I could never hike in flip-flops! Anyways, I'll get off my soapbox now...

...the views going up Diamond Head, and once we got to the top of Diamond Head were absolutely gorgeous!!

We're getting closer to the top!

We made it to the top!!

I made it to the top!
Seriously, I absolutely love all the views that we have in's all so beautiful! Once we got back down from Diamond Head we went back to our cottage to replenish with lunch and cool off in the ocean. Then we had to come in and put ourselves together because we were going to a luau that night!

We got there a little bit early, so I took some pictures of us in our nice clothes to help pass the time. 

Upon entry we were greeted with our choice of drinks: alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Michel and I aren't big drinkers, but a drink upon arrival and 2 drinks throughout the night came included in the price of our luau tickets, so why not get some yummy drinks?

The scenery surrounding the luau was gorgeous as well!

Dang it...I wish I had asked someone to take a picture of Michel and I together in front of the background in the pictures above. That could have been on our Christmas card. Oh well...

We got to the luau around 5:00, but dinner and the show didn't start until 7:00. From 5:00-7:00 there were Hawaiian/Polynesian games to play as well as small shows to watch. I made a little sand bottle (that I forgot to take a picture of) and Michel participated in spear-throwing.

Not too shabby, Michel!

 Some of the little shows that they put on was this man climbing a coconut tree! He had something tied around his feet, but the rest of it was his own pure strength! I was very impressed!

After we watched the man climb the coconut tree it was almost time for dinner to be served, so we got our final drinks of the night and went to find our seats.

Mmmm...I do love a good pina colada, and this one was definitely one of the best I've had!

The thumb and pinky finger out is the Hawaiian sign for "Hang loose"...I'm definitely hangin' loose on vacation!

Mmmm mmm :)

Very yummy!
Before dinner everyone was gathered in an amphitheater. The pig was brought out and our meal was shown to us.

Once everyone had been served dinner the show began. We were shown different styles of hula dancing from all the different islands. Once it got darker outside the real fun began and the fire was brought out!

At the end of the show volunteers were brought on stage to hula dance with the men and women. One particular guy was brought up on stage in a coconut bra and hula skirt to dance with 2 girls. He was a great sport about the whole thing!!

We really enjoyed our night out at our first luau :)