Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ringing in the New Year - a Hawaiin Vacation!

We recently got back from a trip I never imagined we would be able to take: 10 days in Hawaii! 

SUNSET AT POKOI BAY

HANAUMA BAY STATE PARK

SUNSET AT PARADISE COVE LUAU
Before you start thinking that we have become rich off my writing (ha!) or that we won the lottery, let me give you the backstory.

During the time of Aaliyah's diagnosis in late 2016, my brother, Jonathan, was readying his family for their next move. As an Army chaplain, he had received his orders, and they were off to Hawaii! It was, I'm sure, an exciting time for their family. Knowing that they wouldn't see family here on the mainland for a while, they traveled to Maryland to visit everyone. At the time, they were living in Kentucky, and instead of going straight home after the Maryland trip, their family of seven drove out of their way all the way to Houston, Texas, just to spend one day with us. I'd asked my brother to bring anointing oil, and I still laugh when I remember this. He brought a little glass jar of oil, and when I asked jokingly if it was the highest grade of anointing oil, he laughed and said he'd stopped at HEB and picked up some olive oil. 

Anyway. He visited with us, prayed over Aaliyah, anointed her with oil, and we spent time at our house together as well. Then, he was off, shortly after to move to Hawaii. When we said goodbye in the hospital parking garage, I don't remember much of what we said. He and I were never much for deep conversations with each other, but I knew he felt the gravity of the situation. It was still early in the diagnosis stage, and we didn't yet know if Aaliyah had DSRCT or Ewing Sarcoma. The prognosis was terrifying. 

Some time after my brother and his family moved, he sent me a message. He told me that he wished he could be there for us while we were going through everything, but that once we got through it, they wanted to help us with airfare, and they would welcome us to stay at their house for a Hawaiin vacation.
MY BROTHER'S FAMILY AND MINE ON OUR LAST DAY IN HAWAII
At the time, it was just a dream. I couldn't imagine going without Aaliyah, and she was so sick. But when she started getting better, he sent a reminder, and we finally decided that this winter was the best time to go. I was so busy this fall, and I'm normally a mega-planner when it comes to vacations, but I didn't have time to even look up what to do on the island. By November, all I had done was purchase the airfare, reserve a rental car, and schedule a pet sitter. My brother told me not to worry. They would have a list of things to do, and we should just come and enjoy. For the first time in my life, I gave over vacation planning to someone else - and I'm so glad I did.

Jonathan and his wife, Val, brought us on an epic adventure we never could have planned on our own - or afforded, actually! Just staying at their house and mooching off their food saved us enormous amounts of money. On top of that, we were able to use military discounts for some of our adventures, and we visited several quiet military beaches that we never would have known to explore. 

Here's a little photo essay. The entire trip was packed, and the timeline is a blur, so I'll just pop in the highlights, in no particular order!

Posing in front of a cool tree aside Waikiki Beach after a long stroll down the main shopping strip and a beach-front lunch.
Waikiki Beach.
My brother and his kids built this cool boat! We brought it up to a beach (can't remember where) and paddled out pretty far
(see below).

Waimea Falls. Three of our kids got in the frigid water and swam out to the falls for the experience.
The girls got a kick out of watching my brother's waterfall train of kids.

Paradise Cove Luau. Kai got a chance to learn a luau dance on stage - hilarious. He was a good sport.

Wild roosters and chickens were everywhere. This one cracked us up because it seemed to be hosting this Espresso station.
The kids were thrilled to try these famous cocoa puffs from the Liliha Bakery they'd seen on Hawaii 5-0. 

We followed a cliff-hugging trail off Kea-au Beach Park. Gorgeous views.

Visited the historic town of Haliewa on the North Shore and delighted in some magically yummy shaved ice.

Caught this gorgeous sunrise the morning we rose early to snorkel at Hanauma Bay. One of my favorite memories

View from the top of Diamond Head.

Emoting over the stairs up Diamond Head - ha.

Boys at the top of Diamond Head.
Exhausted after the hike.

Dole plantation - pineapple float after a lovely train ride.

Food trucks. The boys tried one of the famous shrimp trucks.

Mokolii (or Chinaman's hat) at Kualoa Regional Beach Park.

Bellows Beach - so quiet, and super fun waves.

Bellows Beach.
Bellows Beach

Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

The place behind us has some kind of significance to Hawaii 5-0, but I can't remember what. :)

We stayed one night in beachfront cabins on Pokoi Bay. So peaceful.

Like I said, it was an epic vacation. I took 1,100 photos. Maybe a little excessive? I couldn't stop myself. Everything was just. so. lovely. 

And now, well, it's back to reality! Kids are back at school, hubby is back at work, I start teaching again next week, and my line edits are due at the end of the month. I always love the start of a new year, and I'm looking out on 2019 with hope and gratefulness.