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Aloha...Part One!

The weary travelers have returned and I finally have a few minutes to collect my thoughts and reflect back on what was truly an amazing trip. After 12 days in Hawaii, it was hard to come back to the real world and I’ve been slowly adjusting my attitude about work and chores and regular life. I joked about having a vacation hangover…I was just so sad to leave beautiful Hawaii (and being able to loaf about all day) and return to face a gloomy, rainy, and cold April in Iowa. I think I’m finally starting to snap out of it a bit and get back into my regular routine…SLOWLY.

Where to begin??? I guess with the girls’ week. Amy and I flew to Honolulu on April 3rd and met up with Julie, Hope and the rest of the girls that afternoon. That first week, we stayed at Julie’s cousin Leonard’s house just off the shores of Kaneohe Bay. Driving to his house my ears popped as the highway wound its way through beautiful mountains covered with lush, green vegetation. I’d never experienced anything like it. Walking into his house, I instantly felt my vacation groove starting! He lives in a small two bedroom house with lots of windows and a huge sliding door which opens to a covered patio. The backyard pretty much consisted of a pool, patio, and boat ramp where Leonard could back his boat right into the channel directly behind his property and head right out into the bay.
It was unlike any place I visited. The houses were close together and all the windows were open everywhere – yet it was quiet and peaceful. After snapping several pictures and having a delicious meal cooked for us, Amy and I were pooped and headed to bed. Each morning Amy and I would wake up before the other girls and sneak outside to wake ourselves up with some poolside yoga. We’d stand and stretch while looking out at the bay and breathe in the fresh morning air. It was one of my favorite parts of that first week!

The first morning there we loaded up and headed out to Lanikai beach. We decided to take a few kayaks with us to try and kayak out to the Twin Islands, which are about a mile off the shores of Lanikai. I’m sure anyone watching this group of girls try and hoist 2 large kayaks into the back of Leonard’s old Ford pick up and proceed to tie them down, to the best of their abilities must have been cracking up. Eventually we got them in and Amy and I hopped in the old truck to follow Julie and the rest of the girls in the rental van.
It took me a few minutes to get used to the feel of the stick shift, but soon we were cruising around Oahu like we were locals…or at least, we looked like locals in the truck. Let’s just say it was an interesting ride! Lots of laughs!!! Julie and I made our way to the launch point while the other girls found their spot on the beach. Walking down to the water’s edge for the first time – it almost took my breath away.
The water was so blue…the sand seemed almost white. It was quiet, nearly deserted. I couldn’t wait to hop in and try my hand at the kayaking! Soon enough we were off…Julie following behind me in her own kayak. I couldn’t believe it! I was kayaking…in the OCEAN!!! The water lapped against the side of the kayak and I couldn’t help but think of all the interesting marine life that these waters held. Did I think of sharks?? Maybe a little…but the waters were very shallow in places, you could see the dark shadows of large areas of corral, so I didn’t worry too much.
I just didn’t want to tip over! The closer we got to the twin islands, we could see the waves getting bigger and bigger. Trying to figure out our approach, Julie was a little concerned we might have trouble with the waves. Even with all her kayaking adventures, she’d never approached the islands with waves that big, so we decided to play it safe and turn back towards Lanikai. I was a tiny bit disappointed we didn’t make it out to the islands…but I was still so tickled to have the experience of manning my own kayak on the ocean, I didn’t really care! We spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful beach; floating in the water, walking down the shores, sitting on the beach and just taking it all in. Amazing.
Amy and I wandered down to the northern tip of the beach and saw several sea turtles swimming in the water just off the shore! The waves were breaking a bit more in that area and it was rockier than where we’d been before…but I was determined to try and sneak in the water for a couple photos. I had my awesome little waterproof camera with me, after all! So, I stepped out into the water a few feet and squatted down into the water, placing my hands and the camera under the water to try and snap some pictures. My gaze was SO intent on the turtles that I wasn’t paying any attention to the large wave coming at me…and before I knew it I was completely toppled over on the sand, being drug up the shore with the incoming wave. Amy stood nearby laughing and laughing while I tried to compose myself! I scraped my toe and knee…but couldn’t help but laugh at how stupid I can be. I did manage to get a couple pictures of A turtle…but got knocked over more than once, I have to admit.
Even a scraped up toe couldn’t harsh my mellow though…it was the first day of an awesome trip and nothing could get me down. When we were ready to leave the beach, we went into the nearby town of Kailua for supper at one of Julie’s favorite spots, Maui Tacos. We dined outside on their patio in our swimsuits and cover-ups, true vacation style!!

Tuesday we headed out for a hike up to Maunawili Falls. The trail is about 1 and ½ miles and is pretty rugged. It was muddy, steep, and tricky to manage at times.
We wound our way through the jungle, crossing a creek several times. Finally we made it to the falls – gorgeous! We each grabbed a spot on a rock and ate our lunch while taking in all the beauty around us. While at the falls, we surprised Julie with custom made shirts commemorating our time together in Hawaii.
It was a special moment for all of us. Then it was time to take our turns jumping into the waterfall. Hope, Julie, Amy and I all took turns.
It was a frigid swim to the rocky side where we climbed up, and looking down it was MUCH higher than I had anticipated…but jumping off and shooting back up to the water’s surface was exhilarating! I had to do it twice!! AMAZING!

Wednesday morning we made our way into Honolulu to spend a few hours shopping around the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet. Lots of Hawaiian trinkets, souvenirs, and goodies to be found! Amy and I tried some Hawaiian Shave Ice
and malasadas (yummy donut type goodie), which I also bought for Hope to celebrate her 38th birthday! After a quick lunch at Leonard’s we headed down to the Kaneohe Bay Yacht Club where we boarded Leonard’s boat the ‘African Queen’ and set out to snorkel and swim at their favorite sandbar. As we made our way closer to the sandbar, the sky grew darker and dark and JUST as we reached the spot…a torrential downpour ensued. We grabbed towels and cover ups, but we all pretty much got soaked. Amy and I giggled under our neat sheet as we waited for the rain to let up.
Eventually Leonard took us over to the shores of Coconut Island, where the rain let up and we beached the boat there. We got out and a few of us snorkeled around a little bit, checking out some of the corral and a few little fish. It wasn’t too impressive, by most people’s standards, but for us Iowa girls who hadn’t ever done it – it was awesome! Hope and I snorkeled around together…a fun way to spend her birthday!

Thursday morning we spent around the house and then headed down to Waikiki in the afternoon. Hope, Amy, and I headed down to the beach while the other girls waited to pick up incoming family at the airport and hit some shops along the way.
The beach at Waikiki was much busier than Lanikai and the waves were bigger as well – a totally different feel that Lanikai…but still felt pretty awesome to be swimming and lounging at Waikiki beach!!!
After a few hours there, we found a bathroom (in a Macy’s store!) and cleaned up and changed clothes. We wandered around some of the Island Marketplace and some other shops before finding supper at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
MMM! We dined on delicious mahi-mahi and of course had a couple Mai Tai’s to go with it! We had a fantastic time laughing and enjoying the meal and each other’s company. It was a great way to wind down the girls’ week.

Friday morning the three of us set out again in the truck to Lanikai one last time before Hope had to head home. We got to the beach early in the morning and hardly anyone was out. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
We spent the morning there together, soaking in the beauty together, then headed in to Kailua to find some lunch. We drove around a bit and found a little spot off the main drag…and the food was SO good!
Heading back to Leonard’s to clean up and pack up, I felt a little bad that the girls’ week was coming to an end…but I was SO excited to pick up the boys and start the couple’s week!!!


Emily said…
...and did you hear "over the rainbow" on ukelele about a million times while you were there?
Matt and Emily said…
You know it! :)

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