Friday, June 17, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure day 13

Coming Home - trip wrap up

Why is it that just when we are finally all sleeping until 8 on a daily basis, it's time to go home?
It's going to be hard to get back to our usual time zone.

This morning was mainly about packing up, but the kids and hubby hit the pools one last time. Which gave me the chance to organize a bit and get myself ready.
We left Aulani around 10:40 and headed out to the airport. Other than the realization that we forgot to get gas, just after we pulled into the rental car lot... you know after you drive over the tire slasher things - bummer. The transfer to the airport was easy. Our gate was a long walk away, but we had plenty of time.
Our flight was on time and really an easy flight. I don't know if we are just getting better at this or the kids being older makes it that much easier. But these flights have been nice.
And any flight where I can have POG juice is a good flight ;)

We landed just after 10 pm. And with a short stop for gas, we were home and in bed before midnight. Lucky for us it only felt like 9 pm :)

We had a wonderful trip. It's hard to believe it's over. Each island was very different.
For our family, we made the right choice of Island order - going from the Big Island, the most laid back and least developed, to Maui, then to Oahu, with Waikiki and traffic and the staying at Aulani.
We could have easily spent all our time on Oahu at the resort. If/when we return, we think a few nights in Waikiki to see the sights and explore, then a few nights at Aulani to enjoy the resort may be our plan.

On the Big Island we used VRBO for our condo at the Waikoloa Beach Villas and it was perfect. A ton of room, beautiful grounds, close to shops and restaurants. It was about a 20 minute drive into the Kona area. Overall we really liked the location.
On Maui, we stated at Honua Kai resort. This we picked because of the pools and price (construction rate was good). Maui is a funny island, It's a trek to most parts of the island, so I am  not sure if there is a perfect location to stay in to easily see it all. To be fair, we weren't trying to see it all :) This was the only place we stayed that we didn't have 3 beds. It was fine, but not ideal.
And clearly we LOVED Aulani. Our lady is already plotting to return ;)

A panoramic view from our balcony.
We expect to someday give that submarine tour another try.
Every place we stayed we enjoyed having a kitchen and laundry in the room.
I think we are more organized on vacation than at home... hmmm? Maybe, more vacations??

Aloha! Mahalo, we had a wonderful time! 

And for the sake of being silly.....
Hawaii crumbs?
On our last evening, eating dinner in the room, I noticed these crumbs on the table. I asked hubby... "do these crumbs look like Hawaii?" We decided it was amusing enough to document. And I promise I didn't arrange them like this :) 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day 12

Oahu day 4

It's our last full day on the islands :(
And it did not go as planned.....
I was told to use the black and white picture to signify that things didn't go as planned.
We planned to go on a submarine ride today off the coast of Waikiki. We left the resort and drove the 45 minutes into Honolulu. We found the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort (huge) and found a parking spot. We navigated the ground to find the Atlantis submarine booth and then the dock where we had our boarding picture taken. We waited patiently for the boat that takes guests to the submarine to come back and unload the last group and get ready for our group. Then, when it seemed to be time to board, a crew member came out with a microphone and started talking. The mic didn't work at all and he was just talking away. So we all assumed we were missing boarding instructions etc. Then another crew member handed him a mic that worked and we were told in a casual nonchalant manner that due to poor visibility our sub ride was cancelled.

What? Huh? Say that again.
He said they don't like to cancel [Editor's note: Well, yeah, canceling costs them a literal boatload of money...], but the conditions at the diving site are so bad right now, that the sub can't see... the passengers can't see etc. Making the trip out both boring and dangerous (some of this is my interpretation of what little he said).
Please see the desk to reschedule or refund your tickets.

Ok. Well, that's the pits.
This was a very hard transition for us. It wasn't an outcome we had ever talked about with our oldest and it came at him out of the blue. He really struggled with it.
The kids and I left the dock area immediately and hubby stayed back to deal with the refund.
We found a place to sit and some cold drinks and were able to recover.  From what we over heard, this wasn't the first tour they had cancelled this week. Bummer.

Waiting on the pier before we got the bad news... someone forgot sunglasses?
Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in the distance
Watching some outrigger canoes... still before we got the news.
So, now we have some time and hey, some extra funds :) Whatcha wanna do?

We found a familiar lunch place and settled into lunch.
We decided to use some of our extra time and funds on beach time and rentals.
Once back at the resort we hit the beach.
Hubby and our little lady rented a paddle board to try out. While we waited for that, she and I played with some boogie boards in the waves.
This was a blast. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed a nice beach.
I haven't done this in forever and this location was just about perfect.

Awesome beach. 
Plenty of chairs and umbrellas for all :)
Eventually she had to go off and ride a paddle board, so the young man and I enjoyed some time on the shore. He apparently isn't into the beach. This was news to me, but he had a rough morning and if he wanted to sit and watch... that's ok today.

After paddle boarding and a few more minutes playing in the waves, we moved back up to the pool area. It felt like the right time for a cool treat - shave ice and Mickey bars!

Then the adventurous ones decided to try a go at the snorkel lagoon. Our little lady was unsure about this, but wanted to try. It went ok for them. Something to try again next time, but not a huge hit.
Alright, everyone back in the pools. We found the infinity pool... how had we not tried this one yet? This is my new second favorite pool.
We decided to wrap up the pool time with the lazy river and a last run at the water slides.
The line was a little too long on the tube slide, so the slide-goers hit the body slide instead. We all got to float a bit and then it was time to go. Dinner was calling and I am always amazed at how you feel after 3 hours of water activity, later on.. once its over.

We made some pasta in the room and then the little lady went to the kids club one last time. I was able to walk around a bit with my camera... so we have some resort shots.

This resort is beautiful. Lush and green, very well thought out. Nice job Disney :)


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day 11

Oahu day 3

Here we go round the island! Sort of :)
We head up to the Dole Plantation today...  and I am hoping to recreate this picture from 2010 ;)

Taken in January 2010 :)
Our young man feels he can do his part to recreate this pose, but our little lady isn't sure ;)
The drive over hardly took anytime at all, from the Ko Olina area. The difference in crowds from our last trip (Jan. 2010) was significant. We pre-purchased the three tour combo pack (train tour, garden tour, and maze).
We started our fun with the train.
Now put your thinking caps on folks. I asked how long the train ride was, this is the response I got.....

The train ride is 25 minutes, we are running two trains today. A train comes every 10 minutes.

At this point I turned my head towards my brilliant hubby. Trying very hard to make sense of what I had just been told. He simply smiled at me. I wrinkled my brow, as if to silently ask.. What am I missing? That doesn't work. And he continued to smile.
Ok. So clearly time/math defies the general rules at the Dole Plantation.
I decided at this point that my college education was well worth it. If for no other reason that I learned to question things ;)

Our time-defying train ride was nice. They have a recorded narration that runs for the duration. But it's good information and was enjoyable. We saw a number of crops out on the plantation, even some pineapple plants. And once off the train we got to see several types of pineapple plants growing with fruit on them.
Views from the train ride. 

pineapple plants

This is our little lady's hand, used to show how tiny this pineapple is - soo cute!

We wandered through the garden at this point. I will say that even though the path is nice and the plants are beautiful... the commentary (we choose to listen from the app we downloaded) was LONG. We ended up skipping most of it. It could be that we have had plenty of commentary this trip - yay GyPSy guide!

The next time defying train leaving the station. 

Now its time... DOLE WHIP! Being true Disney fans we love a Dole Whip. But its not really something we have access to often. But here we have that chance to enjoy. So we all indulged in some cool, pineapple treat.

Then we hit the maze.
Now, I should mention it has been sprinkling on and off all morning... like barely sprinkling. Almost like a sprinkler was on somewhere in the distance and the wind kicked up. So you think its sprinkling, but you aren't sure, for sure :)

So, once we entered the maze, it actually started to sprinkle. It continued for the bulk of our maze time. So I had drips of water running down my face. Hey, It was better than being hot, and it kept the bugs off me, so I didn't mind.

Oh... you wanted to see that picture? Ok :)

Hey! Who shrunk the sign? ;) 
And of course pictures of the "Worlds Largest Maze".... it seems to be made of hibiscus bushes.... I say this because every now and then you would see a soft pink flower... but mostly it's just trimmed greenery.

We decided we were done after this. And would rather head back to our resort than continue our island tour. I know, I know... but hey its our time, we get to do what we want with it :)
Once back and lunched, our little lady headed down to the kids club for some games and stuff. The boys read and I got to do my nails, un-rushed :)
The boys and I did venture out to the local market across the street for some small items.

We noticed this as we were walking from the resort to the store... is it a Jackfruit tree??? I don't know. 
Our destination - a small shopping complex across the street. 
After some investigation, they decided they are narrow gauge tracks :) 
Dinner tonight is at the buffet.
And once again we will wrap up the evening in the pools. The pools here are really great. The lazy river is my particular favorite, but the family pool is large enough to have room for everyone. Of course we have only been in the evenings when it's quieter :) I like a quieter pool, without being splashed from every angle... this evening it was only one angle, which is very tolerable ;)

Because you NEED to see them close to each other.
This makes me giggle :) :) :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day 10

Oahu - day 2 (our first full day here)

Today I slept in the latest so far (this is the information you came here for, right? What time did she get up?) I got up at 8:35!
Sadly that is in part due to a very restless night. I won't rant about the bed, but only say I had a hard time getting comfortable. 
But the sun is shining and the palm trees are swaying :) Feeling Aloha!

Breakfast today is at the resort buffet. It was a Character meal, which our oldest wasn't thrilled about but the food was really good, so it evened it out, a bit. Two of the hosts at the resort, Auntie, and Uncle seem to lead most of the activities. The kids club is called Auntie's beach house, etc. And this morning Auntie was the host as breakfast. Singing, welcoming people, teaching us a tiny bit of hula. We also got to say hi to Minnie and Goofy. Mickey was there too :)

Aloha Minnie!
The plan today was some GyPSy touring and Pearl Harbor.
We were a little too much on island time today and the touring took the hit. We didn't have as much time as we thought before our Pearl Harbor tour. But we made it to Pearl Harbor right on time.
We talked with the kids last night about this, a little bit of the history and why we wanted to go (and how we expected them to act). The GyPSy talked about it as well, so we were all ready. Our oldest wasn't sure about the movie they show before the boat tour, but he settled in.
The memorial itself is undergoing some maintenance so we couldn't get off the boat at it. But we toured around it. I think the impact would have been even greater had we gotten to the memorial above the Arizona. But we all came away with a greater appreciation for the events of that day and the members of our military. [Editor's note: The boat trip is narrated by someone from the park service, but the boats are piloted by people from the Navy. It's hard to describe, but it was by far the most skillful docking I've ever seen by any boat anywhere. Imagine someone with the skill of the pilots from the movie Top Gun bringing a boat full of tourists up to a dock.]

Walking up to the memorial area.
On the boat. The Arizona Memorial is clearly being worked on. 
Very impressive
I was able to get a nice pic, once we turned around. 

We registered the young lady to be able to go to Auntie's Beach House and she had a hula class she hoped to attend in the early evening. So we returned to the resort for an early dinner. After hula we all hit the pools. They have an awesome (yup, I said it) lazy river. We did the full river twice before venturing to the other areas.
We swam and played in the pools until bedtime. It was great.
I got to watch the sky change color for sunset while floating around a beautiful river... I hope to do it again soon.


I took this late morning. This resort is beautiful. The detail is amazing. Great job Disney. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Hawaiian Adventure Day 9

Maui to Oahu

So having a construction view room hasn't been an issue for us at all. But then we have been here over the weekend.
Today is Monday morning and it's barely after 7 am... it's not wake you up loud, but they are working over there now, and they hadn't been over the weekend. It makes sense, but I guess I just didn't think about it until today.

I have enjoyed seeing different islands on this trip, but the pack everything up and move part of that... not as much. And today we did it again. However we moved to Disney's Aulani and I can't believe we are finally here! More on that in a bit....
Our flight was easy. Just over 30 mins and we were on the ground on Oahu. The flight attendants got some juice passed out and picked up... then we landed. Not even time to get bored ;)

Our vehicle here on Oahu was a last minute upgrade. And its it by far the most comfortable and has the most "get-up-and-go" of all the vehicles so far. But no good way to play the audio off our phone so we can hear the GyPSy guide well. It's the first time hubby has encountered a vehicle with an RCA plug in for audio. No other option. It has Bluetooth for phone, but not audio :(
So, when we stopped to grab a few food things, we grabbed a cord as well.
Now the vehicle is perfect.... until we need to fill it with gas ;) Oh! its a Nissan Pathfinder, if you were curious. [Editor's note: To the people at Nissan: What kind of incompetent product manager decided that they should build a $30K+ SUV with back-up cameras, sonar to keep you from backing into things, push-button start, remote start, etc. but *not* include Bluetooth audio?]

So, 6+ years ago we came to Oahu and stayed at the Marriott timeshare in Ko Olina. Disney was building Aulani, but it was nowhere near done. We walked down the beach a ways to see the construction on that trip and have been sooo excited to eventually come back and stay here. Disney + Hawaii... what could be better? :)
What has made it even better is being here as Vacation Club members. We didn't notice it at the time, but our check in experience was much nicer as a member than it would have been if we had paid cash. It was more of what I assume a concierge check in is like.  And a number of things are free to us.. parking for one ($37 a day otherwise). [Editor's note: OK, I know Disney can be crazy expensive, but $37/day for parking for regular resort guests? That's insane...]
The rooms are laid out in a very DVC way. The format is similar to many other DVCs we have stayed at. And our view is wonderful... we can see the pool, lazy river and beach in the distance. [Editor's note: Our view is wonderful because while we are DVC members, Aulani is not our home resort, so we don't get first shot at booking it. The "ocean view" rooms cost the most points and so they tend to be the ones that are most likely available when non-Aulani DVC members are able to book.]

I see it!
(pay no attention to the Four Seasons sign... it was next to us when I took the pic) 
A very understated sign, we almost missed the sign completely. 
Living room. The hidden bed is under the TV, and of course the couch converts as well. 
Kitchen. Nope, no vanilla ice cream... yet!

view out the window 

Such a fun picture. I won't tell why :)

Once we got settled we wandered around to explore and get a feel for the resort. We grabbed some food to go from the counter service place and ate an easy meal in the room. But we did make some reservations for the character breakfast and a buffet dinner in a few days.
The adventurous in the group hit the pools tonight... but after all the hub-bub of the day, some of us just wanted to relax in the room.

(Update from the pool goers - the pools are AWESOME! She won't stop talking about them :) The slides are AWESOME! The lazy river is terrific too. All followed by "When can we go back to the pools?")

News from the weekend has caught up with us. And is messing with our vacation bubble - that sounds selfish, I know, sorry. I really don't want to return to the real world. So thankful we have a few more days :)

Taken from the bed... ahh, this is nice.