Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let's get through 2010!

I'm going to do a really quick recap of the rest of 2010 after September. I just want to capture it all down and then we can possibly get up to the actual present time...
  • Mark's brother Tyler came to visit us for a few days because he was going to leave on his mission soon and wanted to get some family time.

  • Mark and I babysat Brett and Becky's three boys (i.e. our nephews) for a weekend.

  • Mark and I set up our tent in the front room, where we slept out and read books and watched movies/tv for the weekend.

  • We attended a Halloween party that someone threw in our ward, which included bobbing for apples.

  • Amber came to San Jose with the rest of the BYU Women's Soccer team and we were able to hang out with her and watch the game.

  • I made my most favorite Halloween decorations. They are made out of wood blocks that are each 10 inches tall. I loved making them and having them up in our house.

  • We spent Halloween with the Abbotts down in Yorba Linda, which included dressing up for a ward party with all the family, attending Tyler's farewell, and having a family Halloween party that Abby put together. I was finally able to be part of all the Abbott's family traditions, such as the chocolate chip cookie ghost, dunking for apples, wrapping people up as mummies, and the skeleton story.

  • We spent Thanksgiving in Utah with the Wadsworths, which included playing games, eating a yummy dinner at Grandma's house with the rest of the Bowen family, and spent lots of time hanging out with the family.

  • Mark completely planned and put together an Adventure Date, complete with building me a fort in our bedroom and letting me find clues to the different activities he had planned. We got yummy See's candies and borrowed an adventure movie (Indiana Jones of course) from the library, followed by a trip to the Egyptian museum the next day.

  • I put together a Baby It's Cold Outside date, which included looking at Christmas lights, and eating cookies and hot chocolate near the Christmas tree while watching Elf (which features that song).

  • We celebrated Christmas by decorating our house and then drove down to the Abbotts in Yorba Linda to celebrate for two weeks. We looked at more lights with the family, spent lots of time hanging out with our family (including our cute nieces and nephews, like baby Katelyn who loved pulling her uncle Mark's hair... what a patient guy!), opened presents on Christmas morning, went out to eat, and went on a hike.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sunday, Day 10, Last Day in Hawaii (sigh...)

  • Sunday was the only day that we actually set an alarm and woke up early. We went to a 9 am sacrament meeting in the Honolulu Tabernacle building. It is by far the most beautiful church building we had ever seen and was rather large. We ended up only staying through the first talk and then had to head back to our hotel to quickly pack before we needed to check out.
  • After packing and checking out, we went to Burgers on the Edge for lunch. This was a fast food burger place that we had passed several times a day and always interested us. It was unique because we could fill out our specific order on laminated sheets that we handed to the cashier. Mark loved it because he likes unique things on his hamburger, not the usuals. We were also able to get sweet potato fries with our meal. Yummy.
  • After lunch we drove up to the North Shore and went back to Waimea Bay. We ended up having to pay for parking across the street because it was so crowded. When we got down to the beach, the waves were absolutely huge. The lifeguards were warning everyone not to get into the water, but many people were regardless. After sitting on the beach and reading, Mark decided that he wanted to go in and swim around. I was a little nervous, but knew he was a good swimmer. I went down closer to the edge of the waves while he went in, just to keep an eye on him. I started taking pictures with our disposable camera (thus the weird quality), when a wave came up higher than usual and knocked me down, which knocked Mark's sunglasses that I had just tucked into my swimsuit to fall off and get quickly taken away. Before I could even think, the glasses were already gone and the next wave was coming in. I kept looking out for them, but we never found them again. I believe a porpoise is out there sporting sunglasses somewhere. Either way, I felt awful about it, but at least it was the end of our trip. See how huge the waves were below...

  • We had to finish off our Hawaii vacation with one more trip to Giovanni's Shrimp Shack and then to Matsumoto's for shaved ice and ten packs of Hichew's (these yummy fruit candies that Mark used to get in Taiwan).

  • We had to fill up our car in Hale'iwa and there was a light sprinkling of rain. During our stop at the gas station, we were wowed to see two full gorgeous rainbows that filled the sky. Absolutely breathtaking. They were big enough that I couldn't get the full rainbows in one picture, just in halves.
  • We then ended our Hawaii adventure by sitting on Hale'iwa Beach as the sun went down. The scenery was beautiful and the sound of the waves so soothing. We talked about our adventures and were able to reminisce. What a spectacular way to wrap up Hawaii for us.

  • After the sun went down, we changed out of our swim clothes in the public bathrooms and then had to rearrange our packing in the dark parking lot. We left Hale'iwa around 7 pm and drove straight to the airport. Below is our last picture we took in Hawaii, where we camped out in the airport courtyard amid the lush vegetation and enjoyed the solitude of Hawaii. We just weren't quite ready to be in the airport among the hustle and bustle of normal life yet. One thing I have learned is that Mark and I absolutely love vacationing together. He is my best friend and makes every situation more fun.

  • Well, after that we got on the airplane around 10 pm and flew home through the night. Turns out that may not have been the best idea ever though, as much as I don't regret anything to do with Hawaii. I just couldn't for the life of me get to sleep. I would go back and forth between trying to watch the new "Karate Kid" movie and then trying desperately to sleep. Basically I had a mental/emotional breakdown at some point and was in tears because I couldn't fall asleep. Mark made me switch to the window seat in the hopes that I would be able to get more comfortable, despite my continued crying and protestations. I was a serious grump.
  • We arrived in San Francisco around 6:15 am, with very very little sleep and trying not to be too grumpy (Mark much better at this than me). We had to walk around the airport for a long time trying to find our shuttle. Once we were finally picked up, we started the long, grueling journey back. We literally didn't get home until 9 am, partly because we were traveling during traffic times, but mostly because our shuttle driver was absolutely terrible. I was getting the biggest headache ever and was getting more and more grumpy. He was the type of driver who would go super fast and then slam on his brakes. Seriously terrible.
  • After we got home, we jumped in bed and slept for about three hours. We then had a nice relaxing day at home, trying to get ready for real life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hawaii Day 9 (Saturday)

Saturday morning found us sleeping in, yet again. We like to get our sleep in on. We left our hotel around noon and headed straight to Xtreme Parasailing. We went out on a boat with 8 other people who were also going to parasail and two awesome drivers. We were the last to go, which was fun to build the anticipation. We went up to 700 feet off the ground and were even lowered down into the water at one point. We were on the boat for a total of about an hour. We paid about $10-$15 for our drivers to take a roll of film for us. We were really glad we did because we got some amazing pictures that we wouldn't have been able to get otherwise. It was an amazing experience! So peaceful and calm up in the air.

After our parasailing adventure, we actually had to sit in the parking lot for about 15 minutes to eat some food and feel less like we were still on a boat. Afterward, we drove back to our hotel and changed into swimsuits and headed down to Waikiki Beach. It was a little cloudy, but fabulous to sit out and read and enjoy the beach.

For dinner that night, we finally decided to check out the hotel restaurant we had seen signs about. Turns out we were the only people who had the same thought because we were completely alone. The food was pretty good, but not great. Fun experience though. We also got a free virgin strawberry daiquiri, which are always yummy.

After dinner, we headed straight back out to layout on Waikiki Beach again as the sun set. That night had the most gorgeous sunset we had seen, which we enjoyed but wished we had brought our camera to capture. After the sun went down, we went out into the ocean and swam around until it got too dark. We threw a tennis back back and forth, practicing catching and diving. We then swam out to the wall that divides the ocean from the little swimming area and watched the waves come in and splash over the wall.

Once it was too dark to see, we got out of the water and walked down Waikiki Beach towards a Waikiki block party they had set up. There were lots of stalls of food and other excitement, where we enjoyed a nutella/banana/strawberry crepe. We also watched Hawaiian dancers and listened to several different bands. One guy was actually really talented and I wish I could get a copy of his song "strawberry love" but I think he was just a local guy. We also listened to a big band who had the entire crowd singing and dancing with them. At one point, we were all dancing and singing along to Danny's Song (I think that's what it's called, I just had to google it), where it goes...

"Even though we ain't got money,
I'm so in love with you honey.
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the morning when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright"

Now, I didn't know all the words like some people in the crowd, but I knew enough to sing along. Turns out Mark had never heard the song before ever. How did he not ever hear this song? It was pretty funny because every single person in the crowd was singing along except him.

We walked around the block party for awhile and then headed back to our hotel, where we sat out on the balcony and enjoyed our last night in that beautiful place.

Hawaii Day 8 (Friday)

Friday morningwe slept in and had a chill morning hanging in our hotel room before heading out for the day. We first stopped for a small detour at the Pali Lookout, which is an area of historical significance in the Hawaii history. It was here that King Kamehameha fought with the natives in order to combine the Hawaiian Islands under one rule. It's a very steep hill and apparently people were falling off the hill like crazy during the fight. Of course, this is all the information I can remember after several months of actually being there and reading about Pali Lookout, so I could be leaving some things out. Either way, this area is always really super crazy windy, as you can tell from my hair below.

We continued our drive up the east side of the island and stopped at Kualoa Ranch. I had passed this ranch many times when I lived in Hawaii years ago, but had never gone there. We took the movie and ranch tour first, where we rode around in these open window buses...

and saw some amazing sites! Kualoa Ranch is a large area of land that is really best known for being a film location. Many movies have been filmed there and continue to be filmed there. I guess the week before we were there, they were taping part of Pirates 4 with Johnny Depp. We were able to see some of the well-known sites from movies. Do you remember the movie Jurassic Park? There's a part where the people see these dinosaurs coming and they run down a hill and hide behind a pile of wood while the dinosaurs run and jump over them. That hill and that pile of wood was at Kualoa Ranch! No more dinosaurs around here though...

Several scenes from Lost, one of our most favorite shows, were filmed here. We were able to see the house that served as the inside of Jacob's hut, the lush forest area where the final scenes of Lost were filmed, and Hurley's golf course! If you don't know what I'm talking about at all, you should watch the show starting from the first season. Seriously awesome.

Godzilla was also filmed here and they left the big footsteps...

After that tour, we came back and immediately started the Jungle Expedition tour given on Kualoa Ranch. This tour was in an army type open vehicle and we drove around the very primitive areas to see the place where monarchy used to live. This tour was neat because our tour guide asked us at some point if we were Mormon. I don't know exactly why he would have thought so, except for the fact that we were young and married and we were dressed modestly. He happened to be a member too and worked in the temple and we were able to chat with him. I love finding random members all over the place. We also hiked up to a certain part to see the amazing view,

and ate some guavas that our tour guide picked off the trails for us.

After our Kualoa Ranch expedition, we drove up to the PCC again. It was fun to go a second time because we were in such a rush to see everything on our first visit. This time we were able to play games at some of the islands, and we weaved little fishes out of leaves, watched an IMAX movie, just walked around to see the sites, got some weaved leaf crowns, and sat on a bench chatting as everyone else was eating dinner and the sun was going down.

After our peaceful outing at the PCC, we drove back to Waikiki and decided to check out the Hard Rock Cafe. I've only been to a Hard Rock a few times, and that's always been on vacations. Mark had never gone before, so we had a lot of fun eating the delicious burgers and checking out the cool rock paraphernalia (is that really how you spell that word) all over the restaurant. Mark was most excited about seeing the Guns 'N Roses guitar and the Pearl Jam guitar (shown below).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hawaii Day 7 (Thurday)

Thursday morning we woke up still pretty tired and without any specific plans for the day. That was the best part of taking a long trip to Hawaii. We had times to do some things twice and have more mellow days. We had plenty of things on our list of things to do, so we were never bored. As we were getting ready for the day, Mark couldn't find his toothbrush and realized that he must have misplaced it. After searching around out hotel room, I finally found his brush...

Needless to say, we actually just left the toothbrush in the garbage and just shared mine for the rest of the trip. We decided that we wanted to go on a hike and looked through our list of potential hikes and decided on Manoa Falls. And we were so glad that we went! It was a really fun hike, very different from the other hike we had taken before. There were some people on this trail, but not very many. The hike went through the jungle and undergrowth. It was just beautiful. The only downfall was the fact that the trail was a bit muddy, so our shoes got pretty dirty, but it was so worth it. Also, it did get pretty warm while we were hiking, but that's just Hawaii for you.

Can you see how muddy the trail got?

Mark wanted to find the biggest leaf on the trail and I think we found a good candidate here:

After our hike, we went back to our apartment, but not before picking up some rubbing alcohol and more bandaids for Mark's foot. We cleaned out his wound and reapplied bandaids, followed by our lunch of rice and eggs. We were still feeling low-key so we hung out, watched some tv, and read until about 3 pm when housekeeping called to see if they could clean our room. We decided to go check out the Foster Botanical Gardens. We got to the gardens at 3:30 and turns out it closed at 4:30. That was the perfect amount of time for this though. We took a self-tour and saw plants from all over the world.

Yep, there's a cannonball tree, which you can see below. You can also see the sausage tree. Such craziness.

We then drove up to Punchbowl, which is a military cemetery near Honolulu. We walked around and saw some of the more famous graves.

We then headed back home and had to stop by Rainbow Drive-in for some BBQ steak. Mark watches the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network and had seen this place, which just happened to be by our hotel. We would pass it every day and Mark thought he had recognized it. The food was really yummy.

We also picked up some pastry desserts from Zippy's, a store we kept seeing all over the place. We ran home and quickly changed into our swimming suits, grabbed our towels and books, and headed down to the beach. We sat on the beach and read as the sun set and it got darker outside. Eventually we were just reading by the light of street lights. After it got too dark to read, we laid out and chatted and listened to the band who was playing cool cheesy music at the restaurant nearby. We then walked down the beach to the International Marketplace, where they have lots of stalls with souvenirs to purchase, before heading home for the evening.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hawaii Day 6 (Wednesday)

Polynesian Cultural Center Day! We were super excited to visit the center that day. So excited in fact that Mark was a little distracted while getting ready, so his belt didn't turn out quite as he had expected...

We ate at the coolest McDonalds ever that happens to be right next to the PCC. So lush.

We arrived at the PCC right when it opened and spent every single minute running from thing to thing and probably saw on the bare minimum of things. Thank goodness their one-day village pass actually lets you come back and visit again for free within a few days.

Our day included visiting all the different villages, where you get to see a presentation and learn about the cultures. We also watched a canoe pageant that spotlighted all the villages. We visited the villages of Fiji (pictured below),

Tonga (with amazing drums), Samoa (the funniest man who taught us about fire and then the guy who climbed the tallest palm tree), Tahiti, Hawaii, and Aotearoa (i.e. New Zealand), where Mark participated in the royal guard and dancing ceremony (see below).

We did have to sit out in the heat at times, but it was fun to be outside.

Mark and I went back to Aotearoa village where we played the stick game and practiced with poi balls. Some of us were a little better than others (something I honestly can attribute to girls camp growing up)...

The PCC has beautiful grounds that we really enjoyed, especially as the evening started setting in.

We attended am awesome luau where dancers performed and they dug up a pig and we ate lots of yummy food... oh, and got laies.

After dinner we walked around the park until the night time show started, which had awesome dancing from all the villages. After such a long day, we were pretty tuckered out on the drive home, but Mark did a great job driving us back safe. He also had to deal with walking around on his hurt foot all day long. His foot ended up hurting pretty bad that evening. Such a stud!