January 9th

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

It took us forever to decide what to do today.

Mostly because we didn’t have to be to the airport until 8pm but Emma had to check out of the hotel this morning, so out last access to a shower was 10am. Which maybe doesn’t seem like a big deal until you think about the fact that anywhere you go and anything you do in Hawaii requires sunscreen unless you want to bake. Which also means you sweat a lot.

In an effort to be kind to our fellow passengers for tonight’s flight we were trying to brainstorm things we could do inside – which seemed like a total crime when you’re in a place as beautiful as Hawaii.

So in the end we said screw it, and we went to the beach. And boy, are we sure glad we did!

One of our favorite restaurants on the beach is Duke’s. We ended up going there for dinner on Sunday night and turns out they do a big party on Sundays. Have you ever heard the song “Duke’s on Sunday” by Jimmy Buffet? We hadn’t until Sunday when we walked up and there was a massive amount of people waiting for a table. Someone said something about how busy it was to the hostess and she smiled, shrugged, and said “Well, that’s Duke’s on Sunday.”

It came so naturally off her tongue that it seemed like a tagline or something. We didn’t think overly hard about it until another waiter came by and it said “Duke’s on Sunday” on his shirt. Then naturally we Googled it, and it’s a big thing evidently. It was really fun to be there and experience that. Live music, good food, and dance party on the beach.

Anyway, we really like eating there, so we thought we’d go for lunch one last time.

That end of the beach is a twenty minute walk from the resort, so we planned to go to that side and spend the entire afternoon there. When we made it over there, we remembered that a crew does Catamaran sails off the beach there, and we didn’t get to go last time.


We were able to hop on the early sail, and there was only 8 other people on the boat. Normally they can go out with 60 people! It was private and so wonderful – we were able to move around on the boat and we got to really chat with the couple of guys running the sails. I was almost dance-party worthy excited when they said that they saw dolphins all day yesterday, and that it was whale season. Especially when we weren’t ten minutes into our sail and we saw a sea turtle!


I was sitting there really booting myself in the behind for not having my camera, because DUH DOLPHINS AND WHALES – but in the end, we didn’t see any of either.

So I’m glad to report that I did indeed survive an entire vacation without my big camera. In fact, as I was sitting on the bus with Paul on our way to the airport I thought to myself that I was actually glad I didn’t bring it with – it was a treat to be unburdened by gear and be able to be truly present. I wasn’t able to provide quality pictures for you all and this blog, but I hope you’ll forgive me.

See you back in MN, friends!

January 8th

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

The perk to travelling backward in time zones when on vacation is that you wake up early feeling like you’ve slept in.

Hawaii is four hours behind Central Time, so even when waking up at 6, you feel like you’ve slept in until ten. During the day, you also feel like it’s later than it is so it’s a great feeling when you get to say “it’s only ten o’clock! It feels like the middle of the afternoon – we still have the entire day ahead of us!”

That also means that you’re ready to go to bed at dinner time, but I’m also an early to bed kind of girl, so being asleep by 8 or 9 is ok with me.

Anyway, back to early rising. I love going out and walking around before the crowds are out. It’s peaceful, and I love feeling like I’ve gotten a head start on everyone else.

This morning on the way to breakfast we walked past the Ilikea Marina, and the stillness of the water and softness of the light felt magical.

January 7th

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Well, it’s Monday and we’re still here.

Looks like when we come to Hawaii we need to plan on buying tickets home in advance because this is all just ridiculous. Almost every flight we’ve looked at are oversold by at least five to ten seats with thirty people on the standby lists today through Thursday.

That’s a big ‘ol nope for us.

So we chose to buy tickets home so we’ll be here until Wednesday night. Emma’s also here through Wednesday, so luckily she’s willing to let us continue to stay with her.

So today we decided to get out of Waikiki and go hike. Paul and I tried to hike Diamond Head while we were here last time, but it was the parking lot and waiting lines were full so we decided to bail. The perk to that is that this time around we knew not to bother driving, so we opted to take the city bus.

Worked like a charm – we walked right on in past all of the cars without any waiting.

While normally I wouldn’t consider this a traditional hike as it’s very commercialized, it was definitely a lot of work. Lots and lots of stairs.

The views were pretty spectacular. This picture was taken about a third of the way coming back down; from the top of Diamond Head you overlooked Honolulu one direction and when you faced the other way you could see Maui in the distance!

January 6th

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

Emma had conference obligations today, so Paul and I camped out on the beach.

All. Day. Long.

See that blue sky? This was taken at 9am this morning, and the weather didn’t change all day.

Just about the most perfect day.

Also – I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I did the unthinkable for this trip.

I left my camera at home. On purpose.

I know, I know, it’s complete and udder ludicrous. We were only planning on staying through tomorrow morning (but with the way flight loads look, our plan may be changing), so I told myself I didn’t need to haul it all with me. Which so far has proven to be true – when I have such easy access to my phone and Fuji, I’ve been surviving.

I told myself that plenty of people go on vacation and don’t have a camera other than their phones…right? 😉

January 5th

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Good morning from the North Shore!

Emma had a free day today, so we decided to rent a car for the day so we could drive a loop around the rest of the island with her. However, we splurged a little and did something different than the last time we were here – we rented a convertible! No, not a mustang, a mid-size Mini Cooper, but it was marvelous.


We stopped and had breakfast at a local diner and then made our way up to our favorite beach (pictured). While it was a tad cooler there than other beaches in the area, it is also very very quiet. We made up half of the people on the beach this morning.  It felt nice to be in a quiet area after being down on Waikiki on a Friday night.

The rest of the day we hopped from beach to beach; there was a surfing competition going on at some other great beaches, so traffic was crazy and parking was a bit impossible which was a bummer, but we still enjoyed the drive.

It feels good to be back!


January 4th

Friday, January 4th, 2019

We haven’t told anyone our plans but – surprise! We’re back in Oahu!

This trip wasn’t planned, definitely spur of the moment, but we are happy happy happy to be here!

My sister, Emma, is a graduate student at NDSU pursuing a doctorate in psychology. As part of her research, she submits projects to conferences all over the world and presents at them. Last summer she attended a conference in  Bath, United Kingdom, and this weekend she’s presenting here in Honolulu.

Emma had made a comment about us coming with her a couple of weeks ago, and we initially laughed it off, but as the day got closer and loads looked good to go, we decided why the heck not.

So here we are, back again after only seven months. The weather is even better than the last time we came (80’s and sunshine all weekend long!), and since we’re staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village right on the beach, our plan is to lie low and relax in the sunshine on said beach.

Not bad for an impromptu vacation!

June 3rd

Sunday, June 3rd, 2018

We’re on our way home!

First to Kona (The Big Island), then to LAX.

I wanted to show a little comparison today of Oahu to the Big Island. Oahu is my main picture of the day today, and here is the Big Island as we came in.


Lots of green on Oahu, lots of brown lava rock on the Big Island. Although, I get it isn’t completely fair, as the ash in the air from the volcanic eruption makes it look even more barren there. But still, my point is made.

Speaking of the ash from the eruption, check out how hazy it was coming in:


You can see the coastline if you look reaaaaaally close.


Lots of crusty lava rock.

Anyway, from here we’ll go to LAX. Then hopefully we’ll make the red eye flight back to Minne. The first officer on our flight there is actually a friend of Paul’s, so we *may* have mentioned that it would be nice to get in a little early so we can make our flight, so we’ll see what happens. 😉

June 2nd

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Well, today did not go as planned.

We were supposed to be on a plane home this afternoon.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Fewer than five seats available on most flights, standby lists over 15 people long, us being at the bottom of that list….you do the math.

Not only for today, but tomorrow, and the next day. Paul has to work on Monday, so we ran out of options.

So we did something we’ve never done before: We bought ourselves tickets home. Well, we bought ourselves tickets to LAX, then we’ll non-rev from there to MSP. We’re going to at least get ourselves to the mainland, and we can handle it from there.

So for today, we enjoyed the beach. Allllllll day. Waikiki beach from 9am-4pm. Lots of sun, sand, and saltwater. For a day we didn’t plan on being here, it was perfect.

June 1st

Friday, June 1st, 2018

We got out of the city and into the jungle today.

And it was awesome.

When I say “awesome”, I truly mean it. Awe-inspiring, leaving me awestruck. Totally in awe of God’s creation.

Have you seen Jurassic Park? We went to one of the locations they filmed at. If you thought they just had an elaborate, handmade set, that’s not the case. It’s real, and it’s amazing.

We were told by a couple that we met last night at the luau that they had just done this hike and that it was the highlight of their trip, and highly recommended it. So naturally, we just had to do it.

Only a fifteen minute drive from our condo in downtown, we drove into this residential area, parked on the street, and walked up the drive to the start of the trail. It was so unassuming, you would’ve never known it was there.

Our big motivation was that it ended in a 150 foot waterfall, but that ended up being just the icing on the cake. The entire hike was unbelievable.

If you’ve caught on, I haven’t been able to pick just one image to share each day, but today that is especially true.

Cascading flowers, trees that have no foliage but twist and knot and weave throughout itself, plants with leaves as big as my torso, trees taller than buildings.

I said out loud to the foliage at one point: “God, you make cool things! Thank you!”

And it rained on us as we climbed higher into the mountains, which made the experience even more authentic. I felt like dinosaurs were going to walk right out into the path in front of us.

And then there was the waterfall.


Enjoy some images from our hike. I had Paul stand in a lot to give a sense of scale. I mean, just look at that leaf right behind Paul on the ground in the first one of him.



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!