Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oahu: Our Home Away from Our Many Homes...

Anna and I have many homes. We both live in Guam. She also has her home in Vietnam. I also have my home in Arizona. But Oahu, where we met, will always be a home to us as well.

Rather than spend money on a hotel we stayed at our friend's condo in Kaneohe. Giving someone instructions might be tricky since her road crosses itself. But once you are there you are lost in the view from her balcony.

I get why tourists have a hard time getting around in Hawaii.

Could you imagine waking up to this view every morning?

On our first full day in Oahu we took the Bus to Laie and our old Alma Matter, Brigham Young University Hawaii.

This is with Don Colton, a professor of mine at BYUH.

And you can't come to BYUH without a stop at the temple. The temple is closed for repair, but you can still enjoy the temple grounds and visitor's center.

Even without the white paint (it's a day away from a new paint job) the temple looks magnificent.

The day before we left Oahu I took Anna to a place that she had never gone in all the time she had lived in Hawaii, Makapu'u. Makapu'u is known for having the last lighthouse on island, killer surfing and winter whale watching. There is also a Sea World-like waterpark that was featured in the film "50 First Dates." We only went to see the lighthouse.

On our last day we arrived at the airport for an early flight. But that flight to Guam was full, so we were given a new direct flight to bypassing 7 layovers. We were happy to take it. It also gave us time to hop on a bus and visit downtown Honolulu for a few hours.

Duke is widely acknowledged as the father of surfing.

This is the tent of a homeless man. Not to trivialize the hardships of being homeless, but if you have to be one, this is the place to be!

And like all trips to Hawaii, this one ended with a view of the airport. We arrived in Guam late in the day and jet-lagged. Anna was out of vacation leave so she had to report to work the next day, but I had a few more days so I took time off to readjust to being home again...our Guam home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kauai In One Day...

I have taken Anna around Oahu, the Big Island and Maui already. Since we had almost a week in Hawaii I thought it'd be fun to take her to a new island, Kauai. But, as this trip was costly, Anna would only go if it was practically free. I used my frequent flier miles to get us there. Rather than stay the night, we flew in early in the morning and left on the last fight out, so we didn't need to spend anything on a hotel. We did get a rental car and pay for meals, but we figured we'd do that in Oahu anyway.

We landed in downtown Lihue.

It's quaint and not nearly as city like as Honolulu or Kahului. Even though we had only 14 hours we felt like this small island could be seen in that time. We didn't waste any time and first headed toward Waimea Canyon. On the way we drove by the "famous" swinging bridge of Hanapepe.

Anna wasn't too thrilled to cross the bridge, but there was a geocache on the other side so I insisted we go. It wasn't all that scary. But it does swing as you walk on it.

Then we kept on our path toward Waimea Canyon, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." It is a deserving name.

We stopped at a cabin up in that cool crisp air to eat and then began the long windy road back down. We were close to a place called "Barking Sands" which gets it's moniker because when the wind hits the sand it sounds as if the sands are barking. However, everywhere we went to get to that beach we kept hitting barbed wire fences and US military posts. It was approaching noon already and we hadn't seen much, so we had to move along.

We next stopped at the Spouting Horn. Oahu has the Blowhole which is also lava tubes in the ocean that squirt water as the waves roll in and out. But I think the Spouting Horn is more impressive.

We then stopped at the Waimea River.

Waimea River

This area is where Elvis filmed much of "Blue Hawaii." A hotel at the mouth of the river called the Coco Palms is featured in the film and is also where Elvis stayed while filming. The hotel has since lost it's luster.

We took a ferry ride up the river and a tour of the Fern Grotto.

Along the way the guide pointed out places of interest like the river bank where Indiana Jones ran to his floating plane from the dart-blowing natives in "Raiders of the Lost Ark." I took of picture of it, but there is absolutely nothing to see. Our guide also pointed out "The Sleeping Giant." Again I took a picture, but I still don't really see it.

The Sleeping Giant of Kauai. (I still don't see it)

We arrived at the Fern Grotto but were not permitted to go inside. A grotto is a shallow cave. When I came with my parents in December of 2000 the grotto was open and we did go inside. The cave looks like a small slit in the rock from the pictures you see today, but it's surprisingly spacious once you are in. Some very heavy rain in '06 weakened the cave and nearby walls so it is off limits to tourists. This pic shows the closest you can get now.

The Fern Grotto

After our tour we drove to the last remaining lighthouse on Kauai.

As beautiful as the view was, we didn't get any closer to the lighthouse. There was an unreasonable fee and we saw enough. Also, I found the nearby geocache so we felt no need to advance.

To complete our trip around the island we kept driving till we hit the scenic village of Hanalei.

The view of Hanalei

Anna was tired by this point in the day, she wouldn't get out of the car to see the view, so I handed her the camera and had her roll the window down. In hind sight, it might have been her way of not not being in any more pictures.

As we made the trip back toward Lihue, we had just enough daylight to see Waimea Waterfall, which is no relation to Waimea Canyon or the Waimea River.

Is it just me, or is everything on this island named "Waimea"?

There was a geocache near this sight too, but this this one seemed a bit dangerous. Yeah, I still got it.

At this point Anna and I were starving. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and when we finished there was just a hint of daylight left. The one thing we thought would be of interest to see still that we hadn't gone for was also the closest to the airport, the Menehune Pond.

Menehune are sort of like the Hawaiian version of a leprechaun - only they don't wear green. They are small mythical creatures that look like small people. I think Willy Wonka's Ompaloompas are probably the closest comparison in our culture.

This pond is believed to have been built by the Menehune. Likely it was small Filipino migrant workers...

Just as we left the Menehune pond it turned from twilight to pitch dark. We drove around Lihue a bit to see the non-existent night life before we made an obligatory stop at Wal-Mart (my mom would be so proud).

We made it back to the airport a bit early. We were tired enough to just sit at the airport and decompress until our flight back to Oahu.

We were tired but felt a sense of accomplishment. In just one day we had seen the highlights of Kauai. Of course, had we more time we could have seen or done more, but it felt like just the right amount of sight seeing for this trip. If you every go to Hawaii and find yourself trapped in Honolulu thinking to yourself that it does not feel like the Hawaii you imagined then take a day trip to Kauai and you will see the type of Hawaii that is even better than what you see in pictures.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arizona Pit Stop...

Every time I visit home in Arizona it's really more like a pit stop than anything. While home got my parents set up with WiFi through the house. Wired my parents computers into the network. Reformated and rebuilt my sister's computer. Helped my mom purchase a netbook and set that up. Updated my parents two desktop computers.

Our original plan was to drive to St George to visit my grandma and Vegas to see a show and visit a friend there. But with all that I had to do and the short time I'd be in the mainland it was decided that we couldn't spare the time.

By forgoing the side trip, we had more time for fun as well. We had a Mexican food feast at my sister Lacey's house. I got to hang out with some of my friends that still live in AZ. And, I took out my sister, Ladawn, geocaching.

And I got to go take Anna to Organ Stop Pizza. It was also the first time Ladawn's kids were able to go there.

It seems that no matter how long I visit home for, the time I spend at home is never sufficient. There's so much to do and see that can't be crammed in a few days. But it was a good trip nonetheless.

Before we knew it, Anna and I were back in Hawaii for the next leg of our super summer trip.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Monkeys, Finally...

We woke up late this morning as we didn’t have to leave to the airport until 10 am. As Anna and I were about to go to breakfast our parents stopped us to tell us that the elusive monkeys were on the beach in back of the hotel. We ran there and got plenty of good footage. We were glad to finally see the monkeys we felt we had been entitled to see since the start of this trip.

Yeah, everybody was feeding those monkeys...

After a quick breakfast in the over crowded corral, we returned to our room to make our final preparations for departure then proceeded to checkout.

I paid $25 more for my “all inclusive” room. Had I told them that I used the room safe they would have charged another $20. It looked like a lot more on the bill because they used local currency, Colones.

Over 14,000 for a prepaid all inclusive room sure looks steep, until you convert that to $25 USD.

At the airport Lacey and Mike lost most of the nice shells they collected for their kids at the security screening. Meanwhile, Anna had all of her shells make it through but they took her ever-so-deadly tweezers. My mom also managed to make it through with a huge bottle of water. TSA checks in Costa Rica must be based on an arbitrary system.

We arrived in PHX after a rather layover in Houston at about 10pm. We drove home in a daze and collapsed into our beds.

Although this was the end of our Costa Rica adventure, Anna and I are only half way through the trip. We still have a week in Arizona to visit friends and family. After that another week in Hawaii on Oahu and Kauai.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Playing the Tourist...

We purposely had no plans for this day so we could lounge around and enjoy the resort. As Anna puts it, she wants to play the tourist as much as possible. But, this resort wasn’t all we hoped it would be, so I wanted to do more activities. I tried to get anybody in our group to go with me. White water rafting and ziplining were the two things I pushed the most, but nobody bit. So, I just accepted my fate and made the most of the day at the pool.

At 2-ish the group met together for free scuba diving lessons we signed up for. Then we found out that the staff messed up all of our arrangements which we confirmed 3 times. So, long story short, it never happened. We went to Plan B which was the sail boats. They would not let us take them out because they insisted it wasn’t windy enough. Ok, so on to Plan C, which was scatter and do your own thing. Except for the Scotfords we all went kayaking for a bit since we were already at the docks.

After sitting around the pools all day we met up at 6:30 for dinner at the Mexican restaurant. It was weird. I knew that they would have a slightly different view of Mexican food than we did, but I couldn’t even tell what we had ordered. The Chalupas were really Tostadas and the Encheladas were really Quesedillas. I ordered what I thought was a Chimichanga and ended up being a sort of stew. It was so dark in there, we could hardly see each other, which is probably why it seemed like the help couldn’t see us either. After I passed on my meal which was nothing like it was described in the menu, we made our way to the deserts only to be turned back around with no explanation. A minute later they came out with a cheese cake and a single candle in it. They asked who Stephanie was so they could sing happy birthday to her. We almost couldn’t convince them that there was no Stephanie in our group. They were about to sing to my mom anyway. Eventually they believed us and we were then allowed to go back to the desert bar.

We got back to our rooms and packed up in anticipation of leaving the next morning.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Zipline and Horseride...

The one activity I was most looking forward to most on this trip was the zipline. And today was the day. Rather than just zipline alone, we did a package tour including horseback riding, hot and cold springs and a tour of Liberia (not to be confused with the Liberia in Africa).

We loaded up in the bus and were off for the day.


Once we arrived at the tour company's complex we began with the zipline thus sparing me the anticipation.

Family Zipline

Anna Zipping

Even when hanging on for dear life, Anna always knows to pose.

Lacey Zipping

The thrill factor is raised more after you get a look of what the cable is supported by. It's best not to think about it.

Zipline Support

After the excitement we started to calm things down with a relaxing horseback ride.

Jared horse riding

I've ridden horses growing up so it was easy for me; most of my family as well.

Anna and Jared on Horses

Anna was a bit less ready for it.

Family Riding Horses

Jared and Anna Riding Horses

Rob took it the worst. He was bouncing up and down in that saddle so much he was rubbed raw by the end. And our "relaxing ride" ended up being a fast-paced romp. Wendy's horse in the lead wanted to run, and it did. Wendy was comfortable enough riding so she didn't feel the need to stop it. The other horses wanted to follow suit. In some parts we were on a dead run. It was too much to film it and safely ride, so I didn't get any footage of it, making it look like a casual cruise in the pictures and video.

The hot springs were fine, but nothing compared to the last activity's hot springs. And the cold springs were WAY too cold, so we just dipped in and out. After lunch we were dropped off in Liberia to walk around. I had my GPS with me and decided to go for a nearby geocache since I was so close. Alas, I didn't find it, and had to move on with nothing but a picture of me trying...

Cache Fail

After that defeat Anna and I walked around Liberia.



Fast Food

We have Burger King in Guam, but we don't have ANY of the others that are shown here. That's sad when a second world country has better fast food choices than you...

Following the tour we returned to the resort for dinner, fearing the worst. We were treated to an Italian theme. This was the first time I've walked away from that buffet actual wishing I could eat more.