May 31st

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

Today was awesome.

Not that everyday here hasn’t been awesome, but today was especially so.

And not just because it’s mine and Paul’s anniversary. But it definitely helped.

This morning, we got up and went to this ADORABLE little cafe and had a crazy good breakfast – a farmers omelet for Paul, cinnamon pineapple french toast for me. Mine came with a flower which made me super happy.

Then we went back down to Ala Moana beach for a bit (huge difference in amount of people on the beach vs Monday), and it was lovely.

Sunshine and gentle ocean waves. My kind of morning.

Then we packed up the Jeep and drove up to the north shore to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We knew we wanted to do a Luau while here, and a crew member of Paul’s highly suggested the one here, so we booked tickets a month ago.

We didn’t really know what we booked, just that they’d feed us and that we got admission into the park.

Turned out we were considered “VIPs”, and got to do the park with a tour guide.

Uh what?! Cool!

We had a group of about 10-15 people, and it was fun! We walked all of the villages, sat through all of the programs, got “tattoos,” and learned a lot – we both LOVED it.


They blew my expectations out of the water completely. I could go again tomorrow and see it all again.

Then we attended the luau and ate at the buffet.


Which I thought would be the crowning jewel of the day.

Wrong. So, so wrong.

There was still an entire other show – this one a play about a the growth of boy to man and his experiences within each village. I was hoping to get pictures, but they had a strict no video/photo rule. So you get a canoe paddling through the center instead.

Anyway – So phenomenal. PHENOMENAL.

Crazy talented people. Beautiful dances, great acting, truly amazing fire dancers. The fire dancers, oye. Jaw dropping. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how great they were.

If you plan on traveling to Oahu, do yourself a favor and go to the cultural center. It’s worth every penny you spend.

May 30th

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

The sun shone today! And it was marvelous.

We were up bright and early this morning to make it to Hanauma Bay State Park before the crowds. The park opened at six, we were there not long after that. The parking lot usually fills up by seven, and then they don’t allow private vehicles, so we were dedicated.

What is the draw to the bay, you may ask? The incredible snorkeling.

The fish in this bag were very friendly, many came within feet of us. At one point, a sea turtle came into the bay and swam with the snorkelers.

It was unreal.

God makes beautiful things, we know that. But I never stopped to think about the beautiful things underwater that God made. The vibrant fish, textured coral, soft sand, clear ocean water. It was like an entirely new world down there.

And unfortunately, the underwater camera didn’t want to cooperate this morning.

Whomp whomp.

But that’s alright – an experience to be had without the distraction of a camera. You’ll just have to trust me that it was phenomenal.

At lunchtime, we packed up and came back to Waikiki. The sun was out in full force, and it felt like we went through buckets of sunscreen.

A relaxing afternoon baking in the sun and swimming in the ocean.

To finish the day, Paul and I went to Benihana for dinner – a first time for both of us. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it was so good! A perfect pre-anniversary dinner date.

Since we were on the go all day, I didn’t get any pictures taken, so I snapped this one before we went out for dinner. Our condo had an amazing view!

May 29th

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

First full day in Honolulu: check!

Paul was pretty disappointed today when we woke up to overcast skies and rain showers. The weather hasn’t really been great so far, partly cloudy bordering mostly cloudy on the best day, so he was hoping that coming to the south side of the island would change that.

Nope. Just stuck in a weird weather pattern.

So at breakfast we tried to brainstorm what we could do, as all of the activities we’d planned on doing this entire trip are outdoor activities. We thought, hey let’s go to Diamond Head, no one will want to hike in the rain.

Wrong. Parking lot full, no admittance.


So then we kept driving East and came across the Halona Blowhole. That was pretty neat; the coastline was gorgeous in itself, so that was worth the drive.

IMG_0347 Halona Blowhole.

After that, we kind of exhausted our East Honolulu options. So back to Waikiki we went.

At that point, the showers had stopped, so we parked at our condo, packed our bag, and figured we’d go walk the beach.

Here’s the nice thing about Hawaii: Even when it’s overcast, it’s so warm that laying on the beach is 100% possible. So that’s what we did. The sun never broke through the clouds, but the warm temperatures and humidity kept us comfortable all day.

Paul even rented a surfboard and tried his hand at surfing! He did great, and it was fun to watch. Actually, talk about fun to watch – while we were laying on the beach, a man was fishing and caught a (very small) shark and a puffer fish! People came running to watch him pull them out of the water.


Tonight, we stopped at Duke’s on the beach and had dinner. The cajun fish tacos won us over, and for dessert they had the best macadamia nut ice cream pie – truly delicious!

May 28th

Monday, May 28th, 2018

I am in a beautiful place with this crazy amazing guy. I mean, this is the stuff of dreams.

Last night we stumbled across a beach that is within walking distance of our AirBNB. We went for a walk around the neighborhood, and there it was: A little walkway between two properties that snaked its way down to the ocean.

We had run out of daylight by that point, so we didn’t stay long, but we made plans to come back this morning.

Before we came to Hawaii, I knew I wanted to carve out time to take a good picture of Paul and I on the beach. With my “new” camera (coming up on having it for a year already!), I can turn on the built in WiFi and trigger remote from an app on my phone.  Hence why I’ve been trying to do more self portraits this year.

So Paul and I planned to get up early this morning to be the first people on the beach to set up my tripod and take pictures of the two of us.

He’s such a good sport.

It was so beautiful. Storms were slowly moving in from one direction, so there was this ominous feeling of rain. And in the other, the clouds were colorful because of the sunrise.

On the gorgeous north shore with the waves rolling in and the ocean breeze teasing my wispy hair.

With this man who will always hold my heart.

I will treasure the pictures we took forever.

We checked out of our North Shore AirBNB later this morning, and moved our circus down to Honolulu this afternoon.

From a shack with and outdoor shower to a condo on the 27th floor with views of the ocean.

We walked down to Ala Moana Beach, and it was a mad house. We thought it was just because of Memorial Day today (Pearl Harbor is next door), but it turned out to be an annual Lantern Floating ceremony.

Thousands of people on the beach. THOUSANDS. (Note: I looked into it now that we’re home and 50,000 people were on the beach!)

But when the lanterns went out, it was beautiful. So many people remembering loved ones. They had big screens showing people as they let their lanterns go in the water, and this sweet little boy, who looked to be about 8 or 9 pushed his out with tears streaming down his little face as he turned into his mom’s arms as they sobbed together.

My eyes were dry until that point.

It made me really stop and think about all of the stories standing on that beach at that moment. Thousands of people, each thinking of people who influenced their life. People they miss. What are their stories? Who are they? Was this little boy missing his dad? How has that changed his relationship with his mom? It made me want to hug strangers.

So as the day comes to a close, I find myself very fortunate that I had taken these pictures with Paul this morning. A celebration of life and love, a moment frozen in time of thankfulness.

May 27th

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Only day two on the island, and we’ve learned that if there’s something you want to do, a beach you want to go to, you have to get there early.

That, my friends, is the key.

Being five hours behind here in Hawaii, that luckily isn’t an issue for us. We’ve been up by 5:30 every morning, feeling like we slept in until 10:30.

So this morning, we got up, packed our snorkeling gear, and hit the road for Pupukea Beach. All of the tourism information has said that that is the best spot for novice snorkelers, so that’s where we wanted to start.

We started in a really rocky area that was sheltered from incoming waves, but it was shallow and I got cut up by the rocks, and it honestly wasn’t all that fun so we came back to shore.

Turns out we weren’t in the right spot at the beach, because we hiked out on the lava rocks further out to a pool, and that was the jackpot.

The water was so calm, deep, and there were fish EVERYWHERE!

Paul telling me to put the camera down and get in the water to look at all of the fish.

And we were the only ones there – just us and the fish. Phenomenal is the word that comes to mind. It was cool temperature-wise, however, and that’s what ultimately drove us back out of the water.

On our hike back out, we passed at least 10-15 people on their way out there, so our timing was perfect.

We stopped for breakfast at Ted’s roadside cafe (Food trucks are a huge thing on the north shore), and it was delicious.

The rest of the morning we drove all the way around the island. The complete circumference. And it only took three hours. Totally crazy.

May 26th

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

This magical place has made me say “wow” so many times today.

I mean, when your day starts out by swimming with sea turtles, it’s hard not to be in awe of God’s creation.

Yep, sea turtles.

Before we left yesterday, I had been thinking about the animals that would be here to photograph. Sea Turtles were at the top of my wish list, but honestly didn’t expect to see any. Not only did we see them, but they came in so close!

By law you must stay at least ten feet away from them, but they were so curious! I was giggling with glee, folks. An experience I will never forget that is for sure.

But let’s rewind.

Hawaii is five hours behind central time, so Paul and I woke up at 5am, bright eyed and ready to go. We showered up, packed up for the day and went into town in search of coffee. Right across from Jerry’s Pizza was a local shop, so we stopped there.

Remember how I mentioned the chickens that were in the median in our drive last night?

Evidently feral chickens is a thing on the north shore. They are EVERYWHERE. Including the parking lot where we stopped for coffee this morning. We were the only people in the parking lot, and as we got out of the Jeep, they came out from under bushes, parked cars, everywhere and came toward us like we were going to feed them.


I quite enjoyed it.

So then we hit the road, found a pull off where we went down to the beach and met the sea turtles.


Pure magic.

Then we basically beach hopped the rest of the day. We drove along the entire north shore to see what each beach looked like, how wavy it was, what was around for food, parking, etc. It’s amazing how the beaches, weather, and the surf change depending on where you are on the island.
It was so so lovely. No agenda, no rush, no expectations.

And then driving home from Pounders Beach (BIG waves there, hence the name), there was an amazing burst of color as the sun set.

IMG_9453IMG_9807IMG_9467Top: Beach view of Pounders
Middle: Locals body boarding on waves for scale
Bottom: Paul enjoying the waves with the busted body board he found (ha!).

We’re hoping to beat the crowds and go to a popular snorkeling spot tomorrow morning. We’ll see what the morning brings!

May 25th

Friday, May 25th, 2018

We made it!!!

It’s rare that we get on our desired flight on the first go, or without any problems. But today, things went in our favor. Paul and I did get on the nonstop from MSP to HNL, and not only did we get to sit together, we got an exit row!

Eight and a half hours later, we’re on the ground in Honolulu, getting our Jeep.

On our way out of town, we swung by a Walmart for supplies, and bought some snorkeling gear. Snorkeling is a must for me on this trip, and I can’t wait to try it!

We made it to our AirBNB on the north shore, a cute little shack with an outdoor toilet and shower, and we love it! Perfect for what we need, in a great location. Pictured is the “patio” out of our front door.

And evidently, chickens just roam the streets here. A hen with chicks was in the median at a roundabout.

If this is a normal occurrence, I’m going to really like it here.

After dropping off all of our stuff, we had to head to the ocean. Paul had recently worked with a flight attendant who has a condo up here, so she gave us a tip on the best small local beach to hit up, so we went to check it out.

This is when it hit me that we are in Hawaii.

Truly incredible.

May 23rd

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

This sweet girl.

I’m just realizing that this is her picture-taking face.

In real life, both of her ears flop at the tips. However, now that I’m thinking about it, in almost all pictures I have of her, that ear is flipped upright. Perhaps it’s because gravity does it’s thing when she throws her head back to look up at me, and gets it to stick.

Anyway, not that that is really important, just an observation.

Her eyes are starting to become less puppy-like. Not quite so hectic and fast-paced; more relaxed, soft, and observant.

The heat really does help with that along with the downtick in her energy level though, haha!

May 22nd

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Crisis averted.

Remember how I said our closets exploded in our living room, as we’re trying to get everything packed?

Well, I had left my brand new, all time favorite swimsuit out on the table next to our couch overnight two nights ago. This swimsuit is a one piece, with two long ties that would come up and tie together behind my neck. Well, yesterday evening, I noticed that one of our cats had chewed through one of the ties. All the way through it. Right above where it connects to the main part of the suit, meaning it can no longer reach up to tie behind my neck. This left me with one stubby tie and one long one.

I was devastated.

To calm myself down, I thought if I could find the longer piece, I could at least try and do a patch job and sew it back together. Well, friends, I did find it this morning.

In the cat’s litter box.

Which prompted more tears all over again. I had found this suit at Nordstrom’s Rack, and it was the only one there. It wasn’t like I could just go and buy another one.

So I tabled it, and left the house for a walk with Tiffany. After unloading my frustration on her, Tiffany, being the amazing human she is, practically suggested that if the long tie is long enough, that maybe I could find a hook system, and have it reach all the way around my neck to fasten on the suit by the stubby tie.

It was a brilliant suggestion, and while I doubted my sewing skills, I was willing to try anything at that point.

Luckily, I had an old swimsuit that had the exact hook I wanted to use, and I was able to repurpose the hook onto my new suit.



So the suit is currently at the very bottom of my suitcase, hiding from any curious kitty that may have any questionable motives.

May 21st

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Does anyone else experience chaos while packing for vacation?

I mean, it’s like our closets exploded all over our living room and dining room. On top of that, our dining room table is full of sunscreen, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, hair binders, sunglasses, hats, miscellaneous camera equipment, etc. etc.

It’s a little intimidating.

Although, Paul did tell me we could wait and buy that all when we got there, but I insisted on doing it now, and not spending our time in Honolulu shopping for basic necessities.

Sorry, Paul. You have permission to say “I told you so” when you get home 😉


May 20th

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

I’ve missed these guys!

Once the snow melts and the grass starts to grow, we don’t see them much. I hear the roosters crowing a lot, but they don’t come out into the open often.

The neighbors who farm the fields around our house came out and planted soy beans this week, so with that bring the geese and swans to dig up and munch on the seeds until they germinate.

I guess this guy felt safe enough with all of the commotion to come out for a quick evening stroll.