Home Sweet Home

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We made it home safely a couple of hours ago. The cat is still alive, and was happy to see us. Looks like the winter storm did some minor damage to the house - there was some flashing was on my front lawn. I'll have to call the homeowners association to have that fixed. I threw away some food that was left in the fridge, and called the local pizza shop to order dinner. I'll have to take something out of the freezer to cook tomorrow.
My parents will be bringing Carolena home tomorrow. Apparently, she still hasn't gotten any teeth, and she's been waking up once or twice every night. Fun stuff. Thankfully, my parents rock, and they were able to watch her for so long.
Now I've got to go through all of the pictures that I took and and find the good ones. I should go back through the entries in my blog and add some links to it, and maybe some pictures, too. I know that I never updated my time zone on my MacBook, so any entry that I created from there would have the wrong entry time. I'll have to see if any of the entries look off, and possibly correct those. Hopefully, I will make the time to do all of that. We all know how little time we all have when we're not on vacation.

Layover In Salt Lake City

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Poor Domino is such a trooper. It feels like 3AM now.

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At the Airport

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This morning we packed up everything and put it in the car. Marie wanted Domino to do the island jewelry craft at the Marriott before we left, so we let them do that while we checked out. Of course, we took too long getting back to them, and Domino started another craft (painting a coconut), which naturally was going to take forever. So Rob and I went and played some pool. Rob shot well, and beat me four games to none. Oh well. When we finally got out of there, we headed to the Aloha Bowl. They have a big outdoor market that you can find great deals at. For example, you can get 8 t-shirts for $20. Not bad! Unfortunately, we didn't go there earlier in the week. It was a pain to find room in our bags. After we left there, we used my iPhone to find a place to eat. It showed the normal McDonalds and such, and then it found a place called Dixie Grill. It had a web site - southern food. Sounded good to me. Plus, it's only minutes from the airport. Let me tell you - this place was great. They had great prices and delicious food. Lots of BBQ, plus burgers and such. I got a burger topped with shredded pork. I also got a 32oz glass of sweet tea. It was the best tea I had on the island, and I refilled it 3 times. I liked the place so much, I bought the t-shirt. Also, they have a 32oz mai tai for just $6.99. A perfect way to get loaded up before your flight (if you need that sort of thing). We're on the plane now, getting ready to take off. It was a nice, long vacation. It'll be nice to get back home and see Carolena, but I still look forward to coming back someday - sooner rather than later.

Last Day on Oahu

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Dinner last night at Assaggio's was delicious. However, it was a rough start. Domino hasn't been taking her naps all vacation, and by dinner time, she is really tired and can be quite a handful. If she doesn't get her way (eating pats of butter straight up), she can get very upset. Last night, she threw a fit and started screaming and crying. Fortunately, it only lasted for about a minute, and we were in the corner of the restaurant. Once she settled down, she was fairly good, albeit a bit silly. Anyway the food was fantastic.
Earlier this week, Bill joined us for a game of four-handed pinochle. Bill teamed up with me, and Marie partnered with Rob. Bill and I won the first game, and then Marie and Rob won the second. It was too late for a rubber match, and Marie said that it would be a best-of-five series.
Last night, we continued the series, but we only had time for one game, and Marie and Rob won it. So, if we find time in the airport, maybe we'll continue the series. Otherwise, the series is on vacation-delay. Either that, or Marie and Rob are the four-handed pinochle champions for Hawaii.
This morning, we're packing to come home. We're hoping to hit the Aloha Bowl flea market on the way out for some souvenirs, but it's supposed to rain today. Not sure how well that will go over since we don't have umbrellas with us. Also, I checked the weather at home - it's going to be 70 today (Saturday), but we actually get home on Sunday, and it's going to be 59 and raining. It looks like we brought the weather to Hawaii, and we're bringing it back to home again, too. Oh well.

Hanging Out at Ko Olina

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Today's weather was nothing like yesterday's. Yesterday was the nicest day of the week here. Today is the gloomiest. It's not that cold out, but there is no sun.
This morning, we all went down for ice cream and bingo. The ice cream was good, and John won one of the three games of bingo.
Afterwards, Marie and Domino went to the nail salon at the Ihilane to get their nails done for a mere $50 (after tip - just their fingers). Rob and Dave were going to go rent kayaks, but they told us we weren't allowed to leave the lagoon, so we went snorkeling again instead. The water was a little colder than last time, but it didn't take long to get used to it. I was worried that there wasn't going to be as many fish as last time, but as it got better as I swam to the other end of the lagoon. Again, we got to see three turtles. One time, I looked up, and the turtle was swimming towards me about 20 feet away. I wasn't sure what he was going to do - it was like a game of chicken. Finally, he turned and swam around me. It was really neat to see the turtle so close!
After snorkeling for an hour or so, we headed to the hot tub, where we were joined by Bill. And after hanging out there for about 40 minutes, we all went for shave ice - with ice cream on the bottom. I got pineapple, coconut, and li hing mui (Japanese cherry). Nummy!
We made dinner reservations at Assaggio's for tonight. Should be a nice way to end the week. Tomorrow will be our last day. We have planned things out for tomorrow, and it's going to be a long day, and a sad flight home. I wonder if the snow has melted yet. I sure hope it has.

Diamond Head and Manoa Falls

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This morning, Rob, Bill, and I got up extra early to do some hikes. We left a little after 6AM, and got to Diamond Head around 7AM. When we got there, we timed it just right. There was at least one bus full of people finishing the hike just as we were starting. Most of the way up the hike, we saw very few people. When we made it to the summit, there were only about six other people that were there with us. The view was spectacular. Then, on the way down, we noticed there was at least one bus who was on it's way up the hike. Our timing couldn't have been any better for doing the hike. We finished our hike around 10AM, which is exactly what they said it would be. We had an awesome hike.

After Diamond Head we headed to Manoa falls. Along the way, we took a wrong turn. It worked to our advantage, as we came across two scenic overlooks. The first was the Nuuanu Pali State Park. That overlook has a beautiful view, but is between two valleys that funnel the wind right up the valley. It was extremely windy there - probably 40-50 miles per hour.

The second scenic overlook was of a Chinese pagoda and a large cemetery. There were some trees with orange flowers on them, and a large American flag flying above the trees, too.

We arrived at Manoa Falls trail head around 11:15am. This is a wonderful hike that has a very rewarding finish at the falls. Magnificent. The hike is through a rain forest with gigantic ferns, bamboo, huge trees, and more. It follows a stream with little waterfalls, which sound refreshing and relaxing. There are apparently a couple of spots along this path that the show Lost was filmed at. I didn't know what to look for, so I don't know if I took a picture of the spots. I did take a lot of pictures, though.

While Dave, Rob, and Bill went on their hikes, Marie and Domino went back to the Dole Plantation with Sandy and John. While there, Marie and Domino attempted to do the world's biggest maze. It took them one hour and forty five minutes to make it out!

Today was the best weather of the week. The sun was out, and the wind had died down to a mere 15 miles per hour instead of the 25 miles per hour we've been getting.

We spent the afternoon in the pool. First, Domino and Dave swam in the new pool, where there are several waterfalls and a really cool tube slide. Domino had been denied access to it earlier in the week because she's too short and she couldn't pass the swim test without her floaties on. Today, I put her in her swimming suit that has a built-in life vest, and the lady let her do the slide. She was a little scared at first, but then once she went down, she loved it. It really is a great slide. Rob eventually joined us in the pool, and we swam around the various waterfalls for a little while, and then Domino and I went looking for Marie, who wanted to swim after her nap. After not finding her in the room, we found her walking around looking for us. I brought Marie and Domino over to the slide, but this time, they wouldn't let Domino on. Apparently, they shouldn't have let her on in the first place - she needs to be able to do the swim test without any floatation devices. Ugh. So Marie and Domino went to another pool to do their swimming.

After swimming, we were hoping to see a nice sunset. Unfortunately, the clouds took over the horizon, so we didn't get to see it. We only have one more day to get a good sunset, and I don't think we're going to get one.

Finally, we had dinner at Tacos and More. I loved this place. It's kind of a hole-in-the-wall, but the waitress had a wonderfully happy personality, was very helpful, and fun. I was very impressed that she was working all of the tables by herself, and the service was still very good. We need more waitresses like her. The food was fantastic. I had a chimichanga, Marie had a tamale (which was the biggest tamale I've ever seen), Domino had cheese quesadilla, and Rob had the enchiladas. I highly recommend the soup, and the desserts, too. Awesome dinner.

When we got back from dinner, we were all exhausted, and went to bed.

Domino's Fourth Birthday Party at Germaine's

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Today is Domino's fourth birthday!

This morning we did our timeshare tour. Marriott properties are quite nice, but they're so expensive that it's hard to justify the initial investment. But who knows. Maybe we'll buy someday, but I don't think now is the right time.

After the lunch, Rob and I went snorkeling in the lagoon. We saw some really colorful fish, but the coolest thing we saw were three big sea turtles. One of the was feeding on the algae on the rocks. After watching for a bit, the turtle started swimming, and I swam along side of it for a while. They have some funky looking eyes!

While we went snorkeling, Marie and Domino went and painted coconuts. They're quite colorful, and will make nice souvenirs.

This evening, we went to Germaine's Luau to celebrate Domino's birthday. It was awesome. They had great food, and a wonderful show. During the show, Marie and Domino got to go up on stage and dance. Domino was recognized for her birthday twice - the second time, she received a beautiful flower lei. Domino got up on stage again to do another dance, but she didn't really want to dance - she just wanted to watch the girl dance up close. I can't blame her. If you plan to go, you should know that there's a coupon in the Entertainment book for 25% off. Also, there's a AAA discount of 20%. And, finally, if you order online and pay full price, you can get a free gift bag with goodies in it with your ticket purchase. We opted to pay for one ticket online, and pay for the other one with the Entertainment coupon.

Pearl Harbor

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This morning, we got up extra early and went to Pearl Harbor. I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I didn't really remember much about the significance of Pearl Harbor. Of course, now I know more about it than I ever knew before. For those of you who are planning to go to Pearl Harbor, I have some advice. Everybody that you will talk to will tell you to get there as early as possible so you can get your (free) tickets and not have to wait to see the movie or go to the USS Arizona. After going today, I actually don't agree with that. While getting there early will definitely help with parking, doing the movie and the tour first is not what you want to do. In fact, if they give you tickets for a showing within an hour-and-a-half, I would ask if they can give you tickets for a later show. I say this, because when you get there, you can rent a self-guided audio tour headset for just $5. The audio tour is fantastic, and provides a ton of information. To get through all of the items in the audio tour will take you a good hour-and-a-half, and it leads you right into the movie part of the tour. There's an audio track to listen to on the boat ride to the USS Arizona, one while at the memorial, and one on the boat ride back, to complete the tour. For us, we got there around 7:15am, and we had our tour around 7:50am, but we didn't realize that we should have been doing the audio tour before the movie. But that's okay, we still enjoyed it very much. Domino was fantastic at the memorial, and didn't make any noise. I'm very proud of her.Pearl Harbor Marie.jpg
While doing the tour, Rob was trying to describe what we could see to Marie. The volunteer saw this, and asked if Marie would like to go up and feel the memorial wall with the names engraved in it.
For dinner tonight, we grilled ribeye steaks, russet and sweet potatoes, and asparagus. We just put EVOO, salt, and pepper on everything. For the steaks, we also put on bacon and pineapple. Everything came out very tasty.

Dole Plantation and Welina Mai

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This morning, I meant to sleep in, but I got up at 6am anyway. So, I got my shower, and then asked Domino if she wanted to go feed the fishes. She did, so we walked down to Lagoon 1 and Domino got to enjoy the feeding. Afterwards, I showed her the hammerhead sharks and the manta rays in the pools at the Ihilane.

When we got back to the room, we went down to the pools for a quick swim, followed by lunch.

After lunch, we went to the Dole Plantation. They have a real neat train ride that takes you through their plantation to see the pineapples and other things that they grow there. They give some great history of the pineapple and of Dole. They also have the world's largest maze there. Unfortunately, we didn't get there early enough to be able to do it. We hope to come back again to do the maze.

After Dole, we attended the Welina Mai event at the resort, where we learned about ancient Hawaiian traditions. We heard chants, drums, and conch shells. We saw dances, saw fire made without a match, and saw a man climb to the top of a coconut tree. We even got to see a coconut be opened by hand. It was a great show, with lots of audience participation and lots of laughs. Domino got to go up on stage dance to the drums. Here's a picture of the King cutting a coconut to give out to the kids.

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First Full Day in Oahu

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Every morning, at 7:30AM, there's a fish feeding in one of the four lagoons. Rob and I got up early this morning and walked down to the feeding. It was pretty neat. We saw large oio and tiny aholehole, all swimming right up to our feet. The water was only about a foot deep.

Marie had met somebody on the plane who was staying at the same hotel who was planning on going to a Mormon church. Marie decided she wanted to go to church, so she called them up and asked if she could join them. Sandy and John took Marie and Domino to the church this morning. I decided to hang out with Rob for breakfast.

Rob and I had the breakfast buffet. While the view of the beach was magnificent, the buffet was not. Apparently, there used to be an omelet station and a waffle maker, but not any more. Plus, I ended up waiting a long time for the eggs to be refilled - and while waiting for them, the rest of my food got cold. I wasn't too pleased. But like I said, the view was grand.

After breakfast, we walked back down towards the Ihilane. That's the Marriott that all of the NFL Pro Bowlers stay at. Over there, they have a shallow pool with a variety of sharks, as well as a pool with some manta rays and other fish.

After much walking around, we made our way back to the hotel room to meet back up with Marie. Rob and I took Domino to get some groceries for the week, while Maire took a nap.

When we got back, Marie and Domino went swimming for a little bit (still windy, so it was a bit cold), and then we all had dinner and watched the sun go down. At dinner, a band was playing, and Domino enjoyed dancing out in front. She was so cute!

To cap off the night, Dave won our first game of three-handed pinochle (without even taking a bid). Tomorrow, we're going to head to the Dole Pineapple plantation. Should be a lot of fun. 

As much as the wind stinks here, back at home they're getting about a foot of snow. Sweet.

View 2 From Breakfast

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View 1 From Breakfast

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Happy Birthday Diane!

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Today is Diane's birthday. We celebrated by having dinner at Chuck's Steak and Seafood restaurant, right here at the resort. Here's a picture of her celebrating with a Mai Tai and nummy piece of mud pie. Happy Birthday!

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Welcome to Oahu

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We have arrived safely in Oahu. I was worried about the flight over. Yes, it's only about 40 minutes long, but the winds have been quite strong, and I expected the flight to be pretty bouncy. To my surprise, the flight was quite smooth.
This week, we're staying at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club. As with any other Marriott resort, no expense has been spared here. The grounds are amazing, with koi ponds, pools with waterfalls, and more. We're staying up on the 10th floor, and the view is quite nice from up here. This resort has plenty of fun activities to do, so we may be spending more time here instead of traveling around the island. Although, there are a few things that we do plan to do off-resort, such as visit Pearl Harbour and go to Germaine's Luau. We're also considering going to the Dole Plantation, the Polynesian Cultural Center, and maybe a hike or two. But I don't want to overdo it again this week.

Last Day on Kauai

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We leave this afternoon for Oahu. Overall, Kauai is a very pretty, magnificent island. I'm not sure that I would recommend staying up in Princeville; it's pretty remote up there, and it seems to be too far away from most activities on the island. I'm not sure about all of the resorts on the island, but The Cliffs didn't have any activities that would lead to getting to know the other vacationers. The pool being under construction was a huge let down; had it been open, I'm sure we would have gotten to know more people. I would highly recommend going up to Princeville check out the view from The Cliffs, but not to make that your home base while staying on Kauai. Plus, Princeville is the highest-cost location on the island - gas is about $0.25 more per gallon there. My one night in Kapa'a was very nice, and it seems like a great, somewhat central location to stay here on the island. Unfortunately, the weather went from nice when we got here, to crazy windy around Wednesday, and stayed that way the whole week. I believe that on Oahu, it'll be a little bit warmer, but still windy. I definitely hope to come back to Kauai when it's not windy like this. I'm not sure how easy that would be to plan. For those coming to Kauai, I highly recommend getting the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook. And if you need a discounted rate on a hotel room, get the Entertainment Book; we saved over $150 on the one night we stayed in Kapa'a at the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort. Use the Guidebook to find the top waterfalls, as well as the top rated activities and unbiased reviews of tours and restaurants. Do the Movie Bus Tour, a Helicopter Tour, check out the view from the lighthouse, and explore the island to find the waterfalls. For us, the weather didn't really permit us to do much swimming or snorkeling, but I'm sure when it's not windy like this that water activities would be fantastic.

Scotty's BBQ: As good as it looks?

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No. It was better. Absolutely nummy! My only regret is that I didn't come here earlier in the week so I can have more time to enjoy the leftovers. Plus, I'm here at night, but the place is set up beautifully with a kind of theater seating, with four tiers of tables that have a grand view of the beach. Must be awesome when the sun is out.

Scotty's BBQ Sampler

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Hot Dog'd Out

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I think I had hot dogs twice this week. We still had a whole pack of dogs left, and the rest of the gang wanted to save some money and stay in. I'm not a huge hot dog fan, but can to for them at the appropriate times. And when u eat them, I prefer them to be charred to perfection. So, tonight, I decided to done alone. I'm sitting here at Scotty's BBQ, and just placed my order for a sampler for one and a tall Keoke Sunset beer. The sampler includes ribs, brisket, pork, chicken, cornbread, and more. I'm not really all that hungry, but it smells wonderful in here. Ahh, my beer just arrived.

Waipouli Resort is Awesome

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We're checked in now. I'm pretty sure they're going to reverse the charge for the no-show last Friday. The room at the Waipouli Beach Resort is amazing. Stainless steel side-by-side fridge, two - yes, two - dishwashers. I've never seen that - there's an upper-half dishwasher and a lower-half dishwasher, that run independently from each other. Neat! The master bedroom has a king-size bed, a balcony, and a private bath with a jacuzzi tub. The guest bedroom has two double beds, and a private bath, too! Plus, there's a guest bathroom, too! Three bathrooms? Wow! And there's a washer and dryer, too. Outside, they have a real neat pool. There's a kid area that has gravel at the bottom of it. And then there's at least three whirlpools, and a long river pool. It's snakes around, has two water slides, and at least three waterfalls. Domino and I recently got back from the pool. Unfortunately, the wind is still pretty strong, and while the pool is somewhat heated, it's very cold when you get out with the wind and all. Sandy and John are still down there, and Marie is about to get up from her nap; I think she's going to try and go down there soon. I'm hoping the wind dies down by tomorrow afternoon so we can really enjoy the pool. Don't get me wrong; it was nice, but too cold for my taste. If you come here, make sure you use your Entertainment card for an unbelievable savings. It was a $400 a night room that was reduced down to about $250. Sweet!

No Room at the Inn?

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We checked out of the Cliff's this morning and headed to our timeshare tour. The tour was nice, and we did not buy ($50k!?!). After the tour, we had some time to kill, so we went to Lydgate Park, where they have an insane wood structure playground. We let Domino play for about an hour, and headed to our hotel for the night. When I went to check in, they don't have our reservation. After looking closer at the paperwork, we saw that the reservation was made for last Friday. Ugh!! The guy called accounting, and I think they're going to try and reverse the charges (they charge us for a no show last week). Fortunately, they do have a room for us today, but it won't be ready for another few hours. At least the price is about the same as when I booked it before. So, now we're at Brick Oven Pizza, waiting for some lunch. Pizza is expensive. A small 10" is about $16, and a large is twice that. I hear the pizza is great, so I'm looking forward to my Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza. Should be here any minute.