I don't have many nice things to say about Cory's previous employer, however, thanks (in part) to them, we were able to take a trip to Hawaii at the end of February. Cory went on a business trip last March and he got bumped off of three different flights. He ended up earning $1,000 in travel vouchers. They expire after one year - and we certainly weren't going to let them go to waste. We decided we needed some warmth and sunshine - so off to Hawaii we went. We visited the island of Oahu.
Our hotel was on Waikiki beach so on day one, we took a drive over to the North Shore to see some of the bigger waves (and the surfers). It may not have been this exact spot, but back in 1992, I was here body surfing and lost my swimsuit top as I tumbled through the waves after falling off my body board. I didn't actually lose the top - I just ended up stumbling out of the ocean (gasping for breath) with my top down around my waist. Oops.Cory told me that we could not do and/or see anything that had to do with history on this trip. Poor guy - our last two vacations did involve a lot of historical sight-seeing i.e. the Parthenon in Greece and the early settlers' farms in The Smoky Mountain National Park. I was, therefore, quite surprised when he said he wanted to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. To be fair, we didn't spend much time in the villages at the PCC before heading to the luau so I don't think it was too painful. One thing that did make me laugh - you can definitely tell that the LDS church runs the PCC. The buffet-style luau was served on dishes, and with cups, that strongly resembled items you might find in every church kitchen around the world. :-)
We got up early one morning to go on a whale watching tour. It didn't take long to spot some whales. We ran across some right as we were leaving the harbor on our tour boat. They're not as pretty as Shamu, but stunning nonetheless.
We also visited Pearl Harbor (again, totally shocked given the non-historical-sights-mandate). Watching the videos at the museum and visiting the underwater tomb of so many (the U.S.S. Arizona) definitely brings tears to my eyes. So many have sacrificed so much for my freedom.
We went snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. This is one thing I absolutely wanted to do. I remember how much I loved it when I visited Hawaii last time - and it didn't disappoint this time around either. The sea life here is just amazing. It did take me a few minutes to get used to the snorkel gear. I found myself flailing in the water for a while before I finally calmed down and figured things out. Good thing no one was video taping that!
Cory really wanted to take a helicopter tour - we waited until the last minute to book the tour and almost didn't get to go. I'm glad we did end up going because this was definitely the highlight of our trip. Here is an aerial view of the temple. The pilot stopped to hover, and tipped the helicopter just right, so I could get some good photos.
Our pilot also took us back in to see the Sacred Falls. It is against the law, and apparently impossible, to hike back into the Falls so the only way to see them is via air. The pilot got us so far back in there and so close to the mountain, it almost looked like we were going to hit the wall. But he let us see straight down to the bottom of the Falls. Amazing!
Hanauma Bay from the air.
My cousin, Morgan, went to BYU Hawaii for a semester and she strongly recommended that we visit Giovanni's shrimp bus while we were over on the North Shore. The line was huge. Apparently it's quite popular. And I can see why - the shrimp were huge and super yummy!
On our last night in Hawaii, we drove to Turtle Bay to have dinner. We did catch a few sunsets but this one was probably the best. So sad to have to go home the next day...
I went down to the beach late one afternoon to soak up the few last rays of the day and happened to stumble upon the cast of "Hawaii Five-O" filming at one of the restaurants at our hotel. The video isn't the best since it was taken from my camera but you can see most of the cast. Funny how much smaller they look in real life. I hope this scene makes it into one of the upcoming episodes!