Tomorrow, we leave from O'Hare airport to Los Angeles California. We're renting a van and checking into a Springhill Suites for one night. Early the next morning, we'll check into the Disneyland Hotel for two nights. We will spend one day at Disneyland and one day at Disney's California Adventure park. Then we'll hop on our next plane to Maui on Sunday. We'll spend a week at the Marriott Maui Ocean Club on Ka'anapali Beach, then two nights in Hana. Next we'll fly to the Big Island of Hawaii to stay at Kingsland Resort which is at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort for 6 nights. Our return home has us flying from the Big Island back to Los Angeles where we'll stay overnight just to break up the long plane ride, then we'll fly to Chicago and endure the rest of Winter. At least we'll be missing the weather for most of February!
If you've followed our travel before, it's apparent that we're big planners. Okay, at least I am. This is Kyrie. Marc writes most of the blog and I take the pictures. I write in blue, Marc writes in black. This is the least prepared we've ever been for Disneyland although I have a page of park plans for each day. Our kids are doing their own preparing. Zach brought out his "super upgraded backpack" in his words, perhaps because it's bigger than his sisters' cute mini backpacks that they insist upon bringing to wear around the Disney parks. Zach packed his Disney pins to trade, a journal to write about his trip, and a taco blanket. I may help him add and subtract some things today.
Today we'll finish our packing. We'll also finish preparing our house for some destruction and construction that's happening while we're away (and when we get back.)
My Facebook "memories" showed me a picture of our family in Disneyland 10 years ago today! That was the last trip that we all were there minus Zach who wasn't born yet.. I took Jacob when he was 9, Max when he was 10, and Ella when she was 10. But Zoe and Marc have not been back in these 10 years. This Disneyland part of this trip was almost an afterthought, a bonus addition "on our way" to Hawaii. But it's certainly a much anticipated part of the trip for all of us.
Destruction actually started at 7:30am this morning. Maybe since it was a snowing all day and roads were treacherous, the plans changed. It was fun to hear and see the destruction. And more fun to imagine how everything will look when the project is finished!
Day 1: Travel to California
We were fortunate to be traveling today vs. yesterday. Weather did not hold us up except for a little longer to de-ice the plane before takeoff. Marc arranged to park our van at a hotel near O'Hare. Their shuttle only ran every 30 minutes and we apparently had 25 minutes to wait. As people were piling up, I was getting nervous about the shuttle having enough room for us. We waited by the front door in the cold to beat the crowd which worked well and indeed we would not have all fit had we not been RIGHT there. We flew American Airlines on this first of five flights for this vacation. It was uneventful which is about the best you can hope for.
Upon landing, I received a text from my office showing me beautiful yellow roses that were sent to me from my Chiropractic mentor and friend celebrating our 20th anniversary of coaching. I appreciate the sentiment and am very grateful to Dr. Noel Lloyd for inspiring me and expertly guiding me in my business for my entire career.
We gate checked our carry-on bags since it was a very full flight and could avoid the hassle of dragging them on and off the plane and through LAX. They were immediately there for us by the time we arrived at the baggage claim area, so that worked out perfectly. Then we had a short walk to wait for a rental car shuttle. Pretty quickly we were off in a white minivan. We rented from Fox Rent-a-Car. The process went well, but the car was much older than a typical rental car. It had 80k miles on it and definitely showed it's age. We had about 10 minivans to choose from, but they were all basically the same. I feel like they must buy all the cars from the other rental companies when they are ready to get rid of them! Anyway, the car was fine, but it was a bit surprising.
The timing was perfect. We had 3:30 drive-through Covid tests at Walgreens in Anaheim, We arrived at 3:25. It took quite a while at the drive-thru which was unfortunate for the people behind us, but I guess that's how it works and they could go inside to pick-up their prescriptions if they wanted to. We know we were the only ones scheduled for tests for the next hour and a half! (it only took 1/3 of that time.) Whew! Glad to have that done. It's a requirement to enter Hawaii to be exempt from their mandatory quarantine. We asked the pharmacist how long the test results have been taking, He replied, "Usually within 72 hours. You should be okay for your Sunday flight." He didn't sound confident in that at all.
Now feeling like vacation has begun, we drove to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Marc and I went to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Hollywood and LA on our honeymoon nearly 27 years ago. Reminiscing about this with the kids made dinner extra fun. The food was good and plentiful. We had to take our included Boysenberry pie to go since we were too full. It will make a "good" breakfast. Haha. It's kind of shocking that it's been almost 27 years since we were there. Definitely doesn't seem that long ago!
We checked into Springhill Suites by the Anaheim Convention Center for one night. The room had 2 queen beds, a bunk, and a sleeper sofa. That was fine, but sharing one bathroom will be a little difficult in the morning. I would definitely recommend this hotel. The room was a decent size even for the 7 of us and it only cost a little more than a typical room that only holds 4. The room was up-to-date and the location was great - an easy walk to Downtown Disney. The breakfast looked good, but I definitely wasn't hungry yet when we checked out the next morning.
Today we are checking into the Disneyland Hotel for two nights. So we got up extra early, grabbed a few breakfast items (bananas, grapes, bagel) from the included buffet, then drove the short way to the Disneyland Hotel. Too bad we didn't have time for some make your own Mickey shaped waffles. Staying offsite is quite a deal. It's just as close as the Disney hotels, much less expensive, and breakfast is included! Especially right now without the perk of early entry, it's a smart way to go.
We used our Disney Vacation Club (timeshare) points to reserve a 2 bedroom villa at Disney's Grand Californian. We've been fortunate to stay there a few times before and we know it's an amazing hotel that's literally in the California Adventure park. Somehow the villa we reserved turned out to have been mistakenly released and was not available for us. Marc spent hours on the phone over several days trying to resolve the issue. They ended up putting us in a 2 bedroom suite at the Disneyland Hotel. We are grateful to be staying at a nice Disney Hotel and the suite was very spacious but it was a downgrade from the Villas at the Grand. No balconies, no kitchen, no washer/dryer in the room and farther from the parks. (NOT complaining! Just pointing out the differences.) It was fun to try a new place. Only Jacob and I had stayed at this hotel before. The room had a nice pool and sunset view. They comped our two nights parking ($70), gave us a $250 credit to help make up for the downgrade, and told us they'd give us laundry money--but there's no laundromat onsite. Whoops. They gave us three fast-passes each to make up for this. It would have been better if everything went the way it was set up to start with, but we do appreciate that Disney makes concessions when it doesn't go well. Disney went way out of their way to make up for their mistake. The room worked out well for us and we probably wouldn't have tried the Trader Sam's restaurant, which I liked a lot, if we hadn't stayed here.
|Monte Cristo and pommes frites|
Day 3: California Adventure
Ready and raring to go this morning, I led our crew to rope drop at Disney's other theme park here called California Adventure. Marc stayed behind a bit because our Covid test results still displayed "not received" and we needed a Plan B real quickly! He reserved the latest time spots he could find for a 2 hour rapid results test about 30 min away from Disneyland. This means we'll have to leave the park midday to get this done, but we have no choice if we want to catch our flights to Maui tomorrow!
We weren't going to get Genie+ today since we have the 3 fast passes to use, but factoring in our midday break, we decided to anyway. Ultimately this allowed us to do our favorite rides several times. Good thing we were right at the rope at opening because one of the two main attractions people come early for wasn't opening on time, so nearly every single person there was going to Webslingers- the new Spiderman ride in Avengers Campus. We walked right on.
|Incredicoaster is one of our favorites!|
It was a nice atmosphere outside. The food came so quickly- even before our drinks. It was a fun quick dinner, then we hopped in bed knowing we needed to get up at 4am to leave tomorrow. Okay, Marc stayed up to get our tests linked to the Hawaii website which was no easy task. His brain works better at night than mine does!
Another fun day today. The new Spiderman ride was fun. I'd also never been on the updated Tower of Terror ride which is now themed to Guardians of the Galaxy. Funnier now, but I still hate that ride. I don't like rides that shoot you up like that. Getting our second set of Covid tests was annoying, but at least everything went well. The Hawaii website that you have to load the results up to was definitely not user friendly.
Day 4: Travel to Maui
We got to the airport extra early because as part of this Hawaii covid process you show your Safe Travels Hawaii app at the airport to prove that you have negative covid tests and then they give you a wristband to get you out of the airport in Hawaii. Well, something about the process didn't work for us. Even though the app showed our negative tests, it didn't give us the second checkmark. So we couldn't get our wristbands and will have to go through another line when we go to Hawaii. More on that later.
The flight itself was great. We flew on Alaska Airlines. It was an older airplane, but the seats were definitely roomier both in terms of legroom and also in the width of the seats. It also helped (a lot) that the flight was only half full so Kyrie and I and Jacob and Max had an empty seat in our row. The flight was so comfortable, that this 6 hour flight felt shorter than our 4 1/2 hour flight to Los Angeles.
When we arrived in Maui we got in the LONG line of people without pre-clear wristbands. It was an incredibly slow moving line and definitely the last thing we wanted to be doing after flying for that long. After about a half hour an additional worker started processing people from the back of the line. It was strange that he didn't just take the next person in the front of the line, but it worked out for us since we were almost all the way in the back. All he did, was check our app to see the negative tests and then gave us our "exit pass" so we could leave the airport. And made our QR Code have the second green check mark which we had to show to check in at the resort. I estimate the line would have been at least 2 hours long!
Our next stop was Walmart for groceries. Since Maui only has a few "discount" stores, and they are all near the airport (45 minutes from the hotel), we had to do our grocery shopping today even though we really didn't feel like it. Prices here are shockingly high. We somehow spent almost $500 even though it was mostly just snacks, drinks, and breakfasts. And sunscreen!
Finally, we made our way to Marriot's Maui Ocean Club. A beautiful resort (same place we stayed 10 years ago) on Kaanapali Beach. Everything went well with check in and the room is great. We already were able to see whales right from our balcony!
Our condo is a dedicated 2 bedroom unit with "garden view." We knew from our last visit that we'd have a nice view of the ocean and mountains. Our unit was a 2 bedroom lock-off last time on a corner which gave us a really big entry way and bigger balcony, but this unit is wonderful too. Marc and I have a king bed and the kids' bedroom had a queen bed and a sofa bed. There is a well appointed kitchen and a washer and dryer, both of which are essential to our family of 7 traveling for 3 weeks.
We walked around the resort a little to get oriented and take some pictures.
We made some take and bake pizzas for dinner, enjoyed the sunset, and went to bed very early. We all needed a good night sleep!
Day 5 - a lazy day at the resort
|Our "Garden View" at sunrise|
I was awake at 3:30am this morning which is pretty good for me. I think we went to bed at 8pm and I usually sleep 6 or 7 hours on a good night. Zach sleeps on the living room couch, so I moved him to my spot in bed and enjoyed my Hawaiian Vanilla Mac Nut Kona Coffee. I love that it's warm enough even in the early mornings to sit on the balcony. You can hear the ocean even when doors and windows are shut in the condo too. This is really my favorite place in the world...so far.
Everyone except Kyrie slept in this morning, but with the time change that still meant that everybody was awake by about 7:30.
We watched the sun rising from the balcony where we can see mountains when you look one way and a magnificent ocean view the other way. This condo is labeled "garden view." The birds were so loud (not in a bad way) as the sun came up. So tropical!
Some of the kids and I went down to find a good pool chairs at 7am. A lot of people were already down there too, but we still found a couple of ocean front lounge chairs close to the pool and a couple behind them where Max and Marc could be in the shade. We save 4 chairs for the 7 of us since we are back and forth a lot and don't want to take a giant section of chairs away from others.
The pool security man was super nice saying good morning to everyone and explaining to the newbies that we can leave our chairs unattended for about an hour and 20 minutes or so. They put a towel through a hole in the chair when they see one unattended, then 20 minutes later they tag the chair. You remove either when you return. Otherwise after an hour they remove your stuff. We didn't see this happen to anyone and this is not the busy time of the year. There were still lots of chairs available just not in the most prime areas.
We spent the day alternating between the pools and the beach. The kids mostly liked the hot tub and playing in the sand. Jacob and Ella and I spent a lot of time in and out of the hot tub, but Zoe and Zach spent hours on and around the big pool slide.
|Pretty great lunch spot|
We walked to Whaler's Village- a shopping and dining area. We made reservations for Hula Grill weeks ago. We were able to watch the whales while we ate. There are so many whales active all the time, that we've stopped even pointing them out. Even Zach said, "It's pretty cool."
Zoe has been talking about wanting a flower lei all day. When there was a woman walking around the restaurant selling them, Marc bought one for her. We timed our dinner to watch the sun set. We had just enough time to take a few pictures after we left the restaurant then had a lovely walk "home." I went to bed at 7:30pm tonight. Not sure when everyone else did.
We have a favorite section of pool chairs overlooking the ocean and very close to the main pool area. I head down to save a few spots as soon as it starts to get light out. Jacob came with me this morning. Our favorite section of chairs also happens to be right by my favorite Starbucks in the world (because of it's location and view.) The kids all had Starbucks gift cards from Christmas saved to use for this occasion.
Zach dug a big hole in the sand (which he had planned since the day before). Zach and Zoe had a sand "castle" contest. Zach built a volcano and Zoe built a theme park. We all swam in the ocean for a while. It's kind of hard to swim in the area because there are so many rocks and coral. It would be a good place to snorkel, but we haven't rented or bought any snorkels yet since we are still pretty content just hanging out around the resort. There are waterslides, several pools and live music.
Marc got a call from our county health department at home today. We didn't mention that while eating dinner last night, Marc finally received the results of our first covid tests. Zach's and Zoe's came back positive. LOL! What a disaster these tests were. Jacob's and Marc's were "inconclusive." Mine and Max's were negative and we never got Ella's back. Good thing we took the second tests without knowing these results, or we would have been nervous. Despite having newer negative tests, the health department had a bunch of questions for Marc. They had no protocol for just accepting that they had already tested negative more recently. They wanted to be sure Zach and Zoe had a private bedroom and bathroom to isolate themselves. (Because of course, it makes sense that the 8 year old and 10 year old should take care of themselves if they were really sick, right?) What a waste of time and money all of this is. Zach and Zoe and the rest of us had zero symptoms and there was no way they were positive at any point recently. Oh, well. So glad it worked out the way it did and we got to Hawaii on time.
We ate dinner at the snack stand. The sign for Taco Tuesday convinced us, but I'm not sure any of us ended up ordering tacos. The food was hit or miss. Good enough for snack bar food and a lot easier and a little cheaper than going to a restaurant.
Content is the perfect word for us today. We are finding our groove of relaxing. The kids love the 1pm free snack at the pool. They alternate between really generous shave ice cones and tiny cups (for some reason) of popcorn. I love the live music at the pool from 3-5. There are happy hours from 10-11 and 4-5 where you get $2 off drinks. Their drinks aren't priced terribly high - $12-$13 for frozen drinks and they're good quality. An advantage of being at a timeshare property is that they expect you're going to bring your own food and drink and we did. Marc would bring drinks (juice and Malibu rum in a tumbler) down for us in the afternoon and we'd splurge on a Pina Colada or Mai Tai during happy hour.
Day 7 - Lahaina Town
|The sunrise from our lanai|
This morning we drove to Lahaina Town and did some shopping and sightseeing. It appears that being closed down for a year has hurt the town quite a bit. Many restaurants and stores are closed now. Probably about half of the main street was vacant. One of the big surprises was Hilo Hatti. That store used to be basically a superstore of souvenirs, but they moved to a much smaller location and now mostly just sell expensive Hawaiian shirts. We still had a good time looking through the other shops in town and checking out the local museum.
|Smaller Hilo Hatti|
There is a huge Banyan tree that was planted in the 1870's which is fun to see. We had a really good plate lunch at Eating Local. We picked up a few more groceries that we were missing and then headed back to the resort.
|"Plate Lunch" (better than it looks)|
We had a nice afternoon swimming and then Jacob and Max grilled steaks for our dinner. Everything was excellent.
The whales are just so amazing and often quite close. One day, not sure which as I write long after the fact, there was a very slow and long "whale parade" right in front of us. It lasted about five minutes with one after another swimming shallowly with the backs coming out of the water. Our friend referred to the whale sightings from Ka'anapali beach, as watching the "Whale Channel."
Day 8 - Royal Lahaina Luau
The kids also had fun doing some boogie boarding. We have a total of 4 boogie boards at the moment, because people keep leaving them when their vacation is over (which we will be doing as well).
Tonight we went to the Royal Lahaina Luau - Myths of Maui. Not to be confused with the Old Lahaina Luau. The luau was good, probably about the same as other luaus. Both the food and drinks were good and so was the entertainment. Beautiful setting, right on the ocean at sunset.
It had been many years since the kids (only Jacob and Max) had been to a Luau. I'm glad all the kids got to experience one. I do NOT think it's a must-do every trip.
Day 9 - More pool fun
I really thought we'd do a snorkeling excursion on Maui. Marc and I have always wanted to snorkel by Molokini and our trips have previously been canceled due to high waves. I guess we were so worn out after two really busy Disney days, that we are just enjoying this relaxed pace on Kaanapali Beach. We've had no desire to fill our time with more things to do.
We did meet up with some friends that are staying at the Hyatt next door.
Day 10 - Our last day at Maui Ocean Club!
After some split orders of tropical pancakes from the café by the pool, we spent the morning packing for our early drive to Hana tomorrow. Packing stinks! As organized as we are, it still consumes so much time. We tried to make sure we'd have everything we need in two bags for Hana and our flight to the Big Island...but I'm sure we'll still be rifling through other bags for something or another when we get there.
We spent more time at the pool and beach. I couldn't get down there fast enough. I'm pretty sure I would not tire of this setting even if we were here for months. Marriot's Maui Ocean Club on Kaanapali Beach is definitely a top contender for a recurring retirement location...at least for 1-2 months every winter. Our friends were saying the same thing. Wouldn't that be extra fun!
|Whaler's Village - Whale Skeleton|
Tonight, we had reservations for 3 of us at Leilani's on the Beach at Whaler's Village. Every now and then the kids prefer to have spaghetti and have electronics time while Marc and I go out to dinner by ourselves. Jacob preferred good food over electronics this time, so he joined us.
Day 11 - Road to Hana
Warning: this will be a very long post with a LOT of pictures! The Road to Hana is famous for being a full day's adventure. Most people start early in the morning and return to West Maui as the sun sets or after. It is all about the journey, not the destination! Having said that, Hana IS our destination for the next two nights. We do intend for this drive, which would take two hours without stops, to take most of the day. Of course, we do not need to drive back tonight so we can really take as much time as we want along the way.
We loaded up on groceries last night because we hear Hana has only a small store and not many choices for take-out or restaurants and that the closing times for food is whenever the food runs out- so no guarantees. It looks ridiculous that we're taking all of this with us for the next two nights, but there is nowhere we can leave our extra luggage and we're going directly to the airport on our way back.
We made it to the airport area before our first stop where we filled up the gas tank, got some breakfast sandwiches for the kids, and used the restrooms. A big thing I remember from last time is to bring your own toilet paper because the few and far between spots may be out...and there may not be a restroom nearby when you need one either.
We came WAY over-prepared for this trip. We had rolls of paper towels in case we got muddy (mostly because we thought we need them during our week in Maui-but didn't), 7 pool towels, snorkel gear, bag of flip flops and water shoes, and plenty of sandwiches, water, juice, chips, etc.!
|NOT my pic- This is "Jaws"|
|Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees|
A company has bought a lot of the land rights around there and doesn't want the liability problem of people wandering around (even though Hawaii doesn't put the liability on land holders under most circumstances.) In addition, the locals seem to really dislike all of the tourism. Apparently, this has been going on for a while, but it was probably exacerbated by the fact that they had a year off from tourists and realized how much they liked having the place all to themselves.
|A Stop for Local Freshly Made Banana Bread|
From reading guides, our memories of our last trip, and the fact that it was Super Bowl Sunday, I really didn't expect as many snack stands and restrooms as we did encounter. Also, it didn't rain all day which is unusual for being in a rainforest so we didn't encounter mud. This ended up being a much less adventurous ride than I anticipated...which is good.
First. we pulled off at a lookout and for some reason only Max, Zoe, and I got out to look around and take a few "quick" pictures.
Then we stopped at the stand for that banana bread, and finally at the church that still stood after the tsunami and the nearby "beach"--not sure what to call it, but we all had fun exploring it.
One of these places was called Ha'iku. We saw so much today that it gets confusing.
|We stopped for ice cream. It was just -meh.|
We had an especially unpleasant experience with a local on the road that leads to a popular lava tube. There was a lady there drinking a beer in the middle of the street who seemed to purposely have her kids play in the street and not move to the side when vehicles came. It was a very awkward situation on the way in and she was even more rude about it on the way out. The lava tube itself was fun (a bit expensive at $15 per person). They gave us each a flashlight and we explored the 1/2 mile lava tube for quite a while. Since we were staying in Hana, we saved the last two (and probably best) stops for tomorrow.
This is Ella. The drive was extremely long and boring, especially in between those two lunatics (Zach and Zoe) in the back of a minivan!
Soon we came upon a market place. There were shops and lots of food. They were grilling food and it smelled amazing...but we weren't ready for dinner yet and even IF we'd known about it, it would have been tough to arrive in time for lunch.
It was nice to get out and look around. We will stop here on our way back if we need a souvenir.
|Our view of Hana Bay|
|Huli Huli Chicken stand with the perfect beach setting|
We stopped at the general store (which seems to be the only grocery store anywhere near here at all) to get some milk. We were shocked when it was more than $10 for a gallon.
Day 12 - Black sand beach and Pools of O'he'o
After that we drove on to the pools of O'he'o. This part of the drive was much scarier than the rest of the road to Hana (and is technically after Hana). There were a bunch of blind curves and the cars going the opposite direction seemed to be going very fast (leading to quite a few shrieks from Kyrie!)
The pools are known as the Seven Sacred Pools, but according to our guide, there is no evidence that these pools were ever sacred to anyone and there are actually more like a dozen pools. The pools cascade down the mountainside and apparently, they used to let people swim in them. They don't anymore, but they do let you climb a two mile trail up the mountain to see the waterfall that creates the pools.
You can see the pools of O'he'o as you drive over this bridge before arriving at the entrance to Haleakala State Park. The hike to the pools is a 1 mile round trip and even shorter if you just want to see the bottom of the pools as they flow into the ocean. The big draw here is the 4 mile roundtrip hike called the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls the start of the pools. It supposed to take 2 1/2 to 5 hours!
We all started the trail, but Kyrie and the youngest three decided to turn around after about an hour of difficult hiking. The trail up to that point was like 1,000 very rough, uneven rock stairs. I continued on with Jacob and Max and we found that the trail actually got quite a bit easier soon after because it leveled out and became a much more gradual incline. Also, the second half of the hike is mostly through a thick bamboo forest with a lot of shade. I was kind of expecting a disappointing end to the trail, but I was wrong. There was a fantastic 400 foot tall waterfall at the end.
I'm really disappointed that we turned around. We got to the first waterfall which was dry because of the lack of rain for a couple days. The hike up was strenuous, and we feared another mile of that and another dry waterfall. Instead, the kids and I immediately went down a thousand uneven stairs, turning my knees into a quivering mess. We waited at the ranger station in the shade with a view of the Big Island and a mother and baby whale in the distance.
|Makahiku Falls (dried up)|
|The coveted Waimoku Falls|
For dinner tonight we ate at Hana Ranch (the one sit down restaurant in town). The food was good. I had the Loco Moco which is definitely one of my favorite Hawaiian foods. I had the best Mai Tai of the trip here too. Good thing Marc didn't order one. He had to help me finish mine because although it didn't taste strong, it was!
|Approaching Lobby at Kings' Land|
|Open air Lobby|
At first I was disappointed that we weren't on an upper level, but I think this ended up being the best. No elevators to get in and out. We often used our sliding door to get in and out when we were going to the nearby pool or grill. It seemed like we had a backyard and seemed very private even though there were obviously people above us and beside us.
|Part of our view from the lanai - mountain and golf course|
|The pool right by our building|
This unit and the whole resort actually looked new or very well maintained. This was one of the nicest units we've ever stayed in. We were very pleased.
Below is Zoe's entry. I told her that she could just write what she wanted to write about and then I would move it to the correct sections, but I think it works better as a whole. She kind of focused on the negative even though she seemed to have a pretty great time.
This is Zoe. we had to wake up super early to go to California. we went to the airport we had to go to the airport hotel to park it was REALY cold and wait forever for the bus thingy. then we got to the airport and did all the things. then we went on the airplane for a really long time. when we landed we got our rental car and drove to some restaurant at a amusement park that we didn't get to go to. and then go to our hotel and we had to go to bed at like 7:00. right when we woke up we went and checked in to our hotel at disneyland and then went to disneyland. then we had to wait forever to get in because mom made us go super early. then we went on a bunch of rides and that's all basically. today we went to California adventure and went on a bunch of rides there. my Fav ride there was incredacouster because its good DUH. then we went to some place i forgot what it was called but it had some platter called poopoo eww. today we had to drive to hana it was really long and boring and so were the stops thats all i have to say about hana.
Day 14 - Hilton Waikoloa Village
I'm getting used to my new morning hangout. There's not much of a sunrise view, but it's still pretty. We have a couple beggers that seem to live on our lanai. They are friendly though and probably keep the mongooses away.
|A very empty cold pool|
My favorite part of the Hilton Waikoloa Village is the natural lagoon that is part of the property. It is a large lagoon connected to the ocean that has quite a few fish in it, plus we even saw a few sea turtles. It's definitely not as clear as most of the snorkeling in Hawaii and it's often crowded, but it's so convenient and easy to take the kids to. Unfortunately, there isn't a sand beach area here (except at the lagoon, but it doesn't face the open ocean so no waves and no whales to watch!)
|Sand bottom kiddie pool|
We did find a couple lounge chairs facing the ocean. A couple next to us started a conversation over Jacob's Disney's Moonlight Magic t-shirt. They made sure to give us their lounge chairs when they left. We did see a few whales in the distance, but nothing like on Maui. I'm not complaining. This is all great.
We mostly just swam at the main complex today. We met up with some of the other chiropractors that are here for the Five Star Management Galaxy conference. (The same ones we met up with on Maui.) They found an area on shore that had several turtles swimming around and didn't seem to mind people at all. One swam up to Zach and he pet it! Apparently the turtle liked it as it hung out with him for awhile. Zach said it felt "mossy."
Day 15 - More swimming and Galaxy reception
We had a lazy morning. Those of us who were up earlier than the others hung out at the pool by our condo until the others were ready to go to the main pools at Kings' Land.
This is not the best picture, but this is the side of the pool we hung out at. It was tough to find lounge chairs partially because a large section - like over half the pool area if I don't count the pebbly kiddie pool- is reserved for adults only. The pools are warmer here, there are umbrellas for shade, and the lounge chairs have think cushions on them. These pools have lots of slides and overall I prefer them to the Hilton Waikoloa Village pools. The only thing missing is a view of the ocean!
In the evening we had the Five Star Management reception. This is always a good time, where the doctors and the families all get together for a social hour before the conference really begins. Noel outdid himself this time and booked the dolphin suite. It's a large 2 story suite where the balcony actually looks out over the dolphin area and you can get within inches of the dolphins. He even arranged for one of the dolphin trainers to give a talk at the beginning of the reception! It was really interesting, and we learned a lot about Bottlenose dolphins.
We took a little walk around the outside of and then inside of the property before the reception. It is a pretty property.
|The two Dolphin Suites|
The suite is certainly unique and impressive. The entrance is on the upper floor. You walk down a staircase to the main living area with a very large balcony overlooking the dolphin lagoons. From the balcony you walk down to the platform to be right by the dolphins.
Day 16 - Five Star Galaxy Conference and Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
While Kyrie was at her conference today, the kids and I drove to Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. We were here about 5 years ago and I found it really interesting and since the Mt. Kilauea has been erupting again, I thought we should take another look. When we went last time, the lava area was much smaller, but we could see a whole pool of lava (plus we went in the evening, so it was easier to see.) This time, the lava lake is much, much larger, but only a small area looks like lava and we could only see one very small section glowing. Here is a picture (not mine) that pretty well shows what we could see except that it is from a different angle and has quite a few more glowing areas.
|Not our picture|
The rest of the day was spent driving along the south coast of Hawaii back to the resort. It took a lot longer than driving through the middle of the island, but it gave us more to look at and we weren't in any hurry anyway.
For dinner, Kyrie and I went out to eat with the Galaxy group while the kids cooked for themselves in the room. Everyone enjoyed that.
Day 17 - More swimming
Kyrie had the rest of her conference in the morning and then she met up with us at the main pool. We spent the day swimming and the kids played with some of the other Chiropractors' kids and had a great time. They played with Kate, Toriana and Thea and all had so much fun going down the water slides, playing Marco Polo in the grotto area of the pool and going in the hot tub. At one point one of the other parents checked on all of the kids. Zoe had Zach on her back and Ella had a little kid that she didn't know on her back and they were playing chicken in the pool! Guess we need to supervise the kids better!
The kids were having such a great time that we invited everyone back to our room for dinner. Everyone brought stuff to grill, the kids ended up back at the pool by our condo and everyone had a great time.
|Seemed like our own private pool|
Day 18 - Hapuna Beach
We spent several hours at Hapuna Beach. This is one of the few sand beaches in this area. It's also known as one of the best beaches in the world. Unlike Maui, which has a sand beach about every mile or so, the big island mostly has rocky shores. So, this beach is VERY popular. We were there on a Sunday and it was quite busy. That wasn't a problem though. We still had enough room to enjoy ourselves.
Last time that we were on the big island, we ended up coming to this beach three times because we loved it so much. This time wasn't as great, mainly because the stand that rented chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards wasn't there anymore! (And food! We brought our own anyway, but our friends that came later did not.) This was a great disappointment because it's a great beach for boogie boarding and we REALLY needed an umbrella. We all avoided sunburn throughout the trip so far, but several of us got burnt today.
The kids had a lot of fun digging a giant GINORMOUS hole in the sand today! We did get out in the ocean whenever we got hot, but a couple of waves really smashed Ella and me. Good thing it was a soft, sand bottom.
Some of the kids' friends joined us as well and we babysat while their parents packed and went out to dinner. They all had fun playing Roblox together on their tablets after they were finished swimming.
We ended up eating at the quick service restaurant at the pool again out of convenience. It really wasn't good at all this time.
Day 19 - Last day of swimming!
|Breakfast with a view|
We were lazy today. Knowing this is our last full day here, and NOT needing any more sun, we just wanted to relax. We spent the morning at the pool by our building and then packed. We leave tomorrow. After packing, we drove south to Kailua-Kona and did some souvenir shopping and dinner.
|A lot of goats on the golf course|
We really haven't shopped much at all. One reason is that with only carry-on luggage, there's not much space. Since we have packed now, I know how much room we have.
Once we got to town, I remembered it a little from last time. It's much more fun shopping in local stores than just ABC stores and Hilo Hatti. I bought a t-shirt and a few things for my employees who I'm grateful for taking such good care of our patients while I'm away. Zach was on a mission to find the perfect thing for Seth, my sister's fiancé who gave him $5 to bring him home a souvenir. Haha! I'm pretty sure he thought he'd get a rock or something, but Zach took this very seriously. He even spent more than $5 because as he put it, "I'm generous." (He really likes Seth.)
I did some asking around for the perfect last dinner. Fortunately we were able to get a 5:45pm reservation. We arrived at 5:15pm and they were able to seat us right away (another party of 7 was due but had not shown up yet!)
We ate at Fish Hoppers which was excellent. We wanted a special dinner for our last night on the island. This place had a nice ocean view and the food was really good. I had the surf and turf. This was the first time that I had lobster tail that wasn't on a cruise ship and now I understand why people like them so much. I still think the green curry I had in Hana was my favorite meal, but this was right up there and definitely a much better atmosphere.
It was a great last dinner. We are tired, but most of us don't want our vacation to end.
After returning from dinner, Zach and Zoe had to hit the pool one more time. So they did some night swimming while Kyrie and I relaxed by the pool. Another great day!
Day 20- On our way home
I was treated to the most beautiful sunrise of the entire trip this morning! Very different than any of the sunrises I'd seen on the Big Island. How cool! Our lanai cats didn't show up this morning. They must have found a lanai that serves them food. I was concerned I wouldn't like the ground floor, but this lanai was nice. It seemed like we had a yard. We saw goats, a turkey!, mongooses (I'm a little afraid of those), geckos, cool birds, and more.
We didn't have to rush this morning since we were very prepared. After getting completely packed, I found some people to give our leftover food, drinks, snorkel equipment and more to so they didn't go to waste.
While researching a place for dinner last night, I heard about a good place to get lunch before our flight. We picked up food from Pine Grove Cafe near the airport and drove to a nearby Beach Park to watch surfers. It was pretty and good way to make the most of all of our time on Hawaii.
The Big Island airport is interesting. It's almost entirely outside. There are some covered areas and shade, but it is hot! All the planes have walkways that roll up to them. At least they're ramps, not stairs which would be difficult with so many carry-on bags. We flew United to Los Angeles. Zach was given some wings when he entered the plane and received extra attention and snacks from a flight attendant which made hi happy.
We planned to spend the night in a hotel near LAX versus fly overnight. Not sure it was the best call. Neither option is great.
Our flight was on-time, maybe even a little early. Once we found the shuttle pick-up area that takes you to a place to catch a taxi or Uber, I wondered if the hotel has an airport shuttle. I looked it up online and it said there is a complimentary 24-hour shuttle. So we went and found that waiting area. After waiting awhile, we called the hotel and they said the shuttle stopped at 10pm. Argh. Back to the other shuttle area...where three buses drove by because they were full before we finally decided to walk to the taxi/Uber area in the rain. The trouble is there is a lot of construction going on, so we walked way out of the way around blocked off areas, took a wrong route and finally arrived to get 2 taxis to a hotel 2 miles away. The taxis were approx. $22 each which is half the cost Uber would have been!
After midnight now, we get checked into the Embassy Suites by Hilton at LAX. It was nice. The check-in guy was nice. I was nice, even though I didn't feel nice by now. The rooms were adequate except that they can only have heat-not air on at this time of the year. We opened up the "window" and cooled the room off and then opened again halfway through the short night and left it open to be able to sleep.
Day 21 - Home and Final Thoughts
Disneyland is so much fun and just enough different from Disneyworld to make it seem new and exciting. Maui is definitely our favorite Hawaiian island and one of our favorite places. I think a big part of it is the Kaanapali Beach area that we always go to. Everything is so convenient and relaxed there. It would be hard to find a more relaxing place - although I'm willing to try!
That being said, I'm always glad to be home and I'm always looking forward to our next misadventure!