Saturday, July 31, 2010


So, after flying back from Hawaii, we had a 24 hour turnaround before we started our drive to Southern California. It was weird to be in Pleasant Grove but not have a house. My parents had us there for dinner, and then Tammy let us sleep at her house and made breakfast for us. David and Tricia made us lunch we could take while we went, along with a lot of snacks. Unpacking and repacking was more complicated than we thought, but we eventually made it. The drive down was a bit slow, but we finally made it to Las Vegas, where we found a very cheap hotel room and had a good night's rest.

The rest of the drive to Orange County wasn't too bad. We really liked the hotel room we had there. It had two separate bedrooms, a front/diningroom with a sofa sleeper, and a small kitchen. It was great for our family. We liked the pool too. That night we just relaxed, swam, watched some tv, and went grocery shopping.

The next day Dad did lectures, etc., all day long. Dad really enjoyed meeting the people from Orange County ARCE and from the LA group for studying Egypt (the EEOC). Very nice and very interesting people. He thinks the lectures went okay. This is how we paid for the trip, and they were all very good about helping us get a hotel, get to Disneyland, etc.

Sunday was very nice, a bit of relaxing, etc. And then Monday came.

We met a very nice lady who helped half of us get in for free, and the other half at a discount. We had a great day, doing a ton of fun stuff like Indiana Jones, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mtn., Tiki Room, etc., etc. The kids were so good, though they were clearly getting tired. We even went to the California Adventure "World of Color" presentation. It is very cool. Most of us could not see very well for most of it, we eventually got it to where half of the kids could see well. Mom held Jacob the whole time helping him see a little, while Sabrina rode on Dad's shoulders and Dad held Alexia also during the whole thing. Mom and Dad were a bit sore when it was over. While it was an incredible show, no one felt like it was worth the couple of hours of waiting (even though about an hour of that was just Dad by himself while others went on rides) and the missed time doing other things. Good show, but not good enough for that, and not very well thought out as to how little folks can actually see it.

Food had been a bit of a fiasco. We had heard they were a bit tight about letting outside food in, so we brought some snacks, etc., and made it through until dinner time that way. Then we went to buy some food. We felt like everyone needed to get a good meal, so we bought their full on meals, adding to over $60 for the whole family. The price ticket was a bit hard to swallow, but we felt okay about it because we knew the kids were really hungry. Then we opened our meals, and learned that for all that price, we had tiny tiny portions. We spent all that money, and when done eating, the kids were saying they were still hungry. That I didn't like. It turns out they were not that tight on food policy, so the next day we brought enough food for all of us for all day.

We had not been able to get an extra night at the hotel, so that meant that we had to pack everything up that night. Mom and Dad stayed up until 1:30 or 2 am getting everything packed. Then we all got up early the next day and loaded up. We checked out of the hotel, leaving some of our larger luggage stored with them.

We went to Disneyland again, this time getting all but two in for free because we did the "Give a Day, Get a Day" service promotion that Disneyland had done. The process worked well, and soon we were in having fun. Today we did Tomorrowland, Toontown, finished up Fantasyland, and then did a little of whatever we still felt like doing. There were a few glitches along the way, such as getting on rides that broke down, or working hard to get to a ride that broke down just as we got there, etc. But we had a great, great day. We had one stroller with us, but after seeing how tired the youngest three were of walking by the end of day one, we decided to rent a stroller for day two, and I'm glad we did. All in all, our little troopers were great and we had a ton of fun!

By the time we got out, got back to our hotel to claim our old luggage, got a bite for Mom and Dad to eat, and started heading to our new hotel in Bakersfield, it was very late. Dad had only gotten less than five hours of sleep for the last two nights, so he had a hard time driving. The last half hour he had to stop every ten minutes to jog around and wake up enough to feel safe driving. But finally they made it to the new hotel (thank you Marriott Points), and fell into an exhausted sleep.

This time it really may have been too much fun.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Too Much Fun (what's that mean?)

These last few days we did a Mom/BJ/Tashara trip to Hukilau to boogie board, a PCC trip, a Castle Beach trip with friends where the older kids had great boogie boarding and Sabrina freaked out the whole time because she was afraid she might get hurt by a blue bubble. We also had a good time when we went with some friends to Alligator Pond. It was nice, but then we had bad weather, and on of our friends got stung by a blue bubble. It was Kaleb's friend, Brett, and Kaleb was so good at taking care of him.

On Friday we went to Waimea Falls. We took a lot of time going up, taking every side trail we could find, stopping to make tops out of kukui nuts, etc. We also did a few family photos (which is not always the most fun time). We finally made it to the falls. The whole hike is gorgeous like no place else, and the falls are crazy nice. But of course we were all starving by then because we took so long to get up. We did, however, survive, and later had a nice picnic. It is such a beautiful place it just lifts your soul. We were ready to build a big tree house in one of the monkey pod trees and move in, but they wouldn't let us. There was a really nice Laie Kapuna auntie who worked there that made a nice weaving of a family of fish. She made 4 male fish and four female, matching our family. She did it just to be as kind as possible. It was very sweet of her.

Saturday was a day of lazing around for just a while, then cleaning, and a Mom/Dad/Kaleb snorkeling trip, with some of the best snorkeling yet. Then BJ and Tashara did boogie boarding at Hukilau with friends, and then we had a great dinner with our friends the Tuellers. We have also been having fun dinners or lunches with the Schades, Nilsons, and Lanes. It has been wonderful to be with old friends.

Fantastic Week!

This week we did so many things. A quick trip to Hukilau with just Dad and the older three kids brought some great boogie boarding with some decent waves. The whole family did a small trip to Turtle Bay for snorkeling in their little bay. Then, on Friday, we went to Haunauma Bay for a great day of snorkeling. Everyone got into it but the youngest two, who had a great time on the beach. Even Alexia, who had gotten a little nervous last time we tried snorkeling, couldn't help herself when she saw a bunch of fish immediately. Then we couldn't get her to stop. The older two went for ever and ever. We all saw some fish we had never seen before, and felt like we were in another world. Snorkeling is one of the great, peaceful pastimes of the world.

That evening we went over to Ko'Olina harbor, because we had heard that the Black Pearl (the ship from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie) was in harbor there. We had heard it was by the Marriott hotel, so we went there first. I was just going to check it out so we had a home base (not thinking we would stay, but thinking we would see how that hotel was) and see if they could tell us where the Black Pearl was. But we liked the hotel and the different activities they had for the kids so much that we decided to use some Marriott points to stay there the night. We had thought there was a small chance we might, so while we had not brought a change of clothes, toothbrushes or anything, we had brought pajamas. So we stayed and had a wonderful time. It was so beautiful there.

They had some pools with small hammerhead sharks, another with manta rays, and others with all kinds of fish. They had an activity in their little lagoon where we could feed the fish. They had a lei making activity. And they had fun snorkeling in their little lagoons. We also went to their really cool pools with the waterfalls, slides, etc.

And of course we drove out to see the Black Pearl, did some hiking to get the best view of it, and got close enough that it filled up everything you could see in our binoculars. It was fun. They even shot a cannon while we were there. BJ was way stoked, and we all thought it was fun.

And on Sunday we saw some great fireworks that they shot off at Turtle Bay. It was really a nice show, and we really had a nice time together. For FHE on the 5th of July we did sparklers and little fireworks with all the friends here at the Townhouses. I think we lit about 200 sparklers, and had a great time.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pearl Harbor and Manoa Falls

So today, as part of BJ doing his US History with us here, we made a trip to Pearl Harbor. The folks there helped us with some educational materials, and we had a great time seeing a number of things there. Sadly, we needed to wait 4 hours before we could get out to the Arizona Memorial.

So, in the meantime we hiked to Manoa Falls. It was a beautiful hike. It was also a very, very muddy hike. Jacob and Sabrina were so excited they led the way and kept going and going and going, way ahead of the rest of us, and we had a hard time keeping up. We saw the gorgeous falls, and loved how the whole place really is a Rain Forest Jungle. But we got totally covered in mud. We cleaned up as best we could, but we were still pretty muddy when we went to the Arizona.

We all had a meaningful experience there. We were very touched by what people have done for us so that we could enjoy our great Freedom. As Dad and Sabrina were in the part where the list the names of the people who died, Sabrina said to Dad "I wish they didn't have to die". She was so sincere, and so saddened that this had happened. It was very touching.

PCC and a good day gone bad.

So we have been going to the PCC and having a ton of fun there. It is such a wonderful place and such a good feeling there.

One day we went boogie boarding at Hukilau beach. The waves were perfect, the kids were really riding them quite well (the older 4). We couldn't believe how well they were doing, they could really ride those things. After a while Julianne helped Sabrina ride a few as well. Then Sabrina was stung by a Jelly Fish in a way we have never seen. The thing wrapped around her leg a few times, and we couldn't get it off. As Julianne took her around looking for someone with Windex or one of the other little remedies to help, Alexia was stung in the same way. We took them all around to a bunch of houses and couldn't find anything that helped them, so Dad loaded them in a wagon and ran home with them and started trying to help them there. It was a nasty bad sting, and they still aren't so sure about going back to the beach, and when we do they always ask if there are any jellyfish (or blue bubbles as they are called here).

Ward Camp, Hikes, Swap Meet, and more fun.

So, we are a bit behind on posting about the fun things we have been doing, but I am going to try to catch up. We had a lot of fun doing things at Ward Camp, like little carnivals, etc. We also went on the hike, but Dad and Alexia fell behind, and everyone forgot that Dad did not know the way to Laie Falls, so they went without them. So, most of the family had a short hike, and then turned back to try to find Dad and Alexia. meanwhile, Dad and Alexia went a different way and had a very nice hike, seeing all sorts of beautiful things. By the time they got back everyone was crazy worried, looking for them. Too bad, it was a nice hike for some. But we have really, really loved getting to visit with all our old friends.

Friday we went to the glass bottom boat, and had a lot of fun and enjoyed doing something we loved so much in the past. We saw fish, the kids got to pilot the boat, we played with sea weed and little sea critters. We loved doing that again!

We spent the next morning at th Swap Meet. The kids were great, very responsible about money, stayed together really well, handled being hungry, and we had a great time. We did some other things in Honolulu, and wore ourselves out having fun. Then we joined our good friend Kawika, his wife Uila, and his family for a family luau. It was soooo great! We got all the good Hawaiian food we have been hankering for. The kids had a ton of fun playing games, and of course the Vendiolas sent us home with a ton of good food. It feels like we are home in Hawaii, great fun, great hospitality, great food.

We also had a surprisingly fabulous time when we went to the beach along Turtle Bay. We did a little beach combing. Then we hiked through some cool jungle areas. We had heard that somewhere back there they were building some of the set for Pirates of the Carribean 4, but we couldn't find it and gave up looking for it. Instead we just kept heading for where we had once found some amazing banyon trees and done some family pictures there. We wanted to do another family picture. When we got to the spot with the coolest banyan trees, we found that they were building the set right there. So we took our family pictures, we swing on vines for a long time, and we looked at the area that was roped off where they were building the set. They wouldn't let us in, and wouldn't let us take pictures. All it looked like was a bunch of wood and chicken wire, but it will be fun to see what it looks like when it is finished and used in the movie.