#holthawaii13 Part III: North Shore

It’s 3:42 AM and I can’t sleep. I’ve tried online shopping, paying bills, organizing iPhoto…the whole nine yards and ain’t nothing working. So blogging about our last few days in Hawaii seemed like a pretty valid option. Bear with me.IMG_3042

Due to a nurse strike while we were in Hawaii I had a few extra days off of work (not so good for the paycheck, excellent for vacation-extending). So we did  the only reasonable thing we could think of…said screw it to real-life and stayed for two whole days longer than originally planned! I mean you always dream of staying on vacation, but to have the opportunity to make it happen…priceless, I tell you.IMG_3212North Shore is Ryan’s favorite destination on Oahu, so it seemed like the only obvious place to spend those precious last 48 hours. We quickly booked a room at theTurtle Bay Resort, hopped in our rented Sebring convertible (true tourists, let me tell ya. Also, high rollers. NOT.) and jetted over to the famous surfing beaches.

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Along the way I absolutely insisted we stop at the Dole Plantation for a whip. Tell me you have basked in the luxury that is pineapple frozen yogurt. I mean I will wait in line for an hour at Disneyland for one, let alone an authentic whip on an actual pineapple farm. DO NOT MISS OUT ON LIFE!IMG_3027

A few items of note:

  1. Waimea Falls: After a short, but gorgeous, hike we found ourselves in the company of this natural wonder. The water was way too cold for me, but that guy of mine hopped right in. As Ryan put it, ‘colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bra’ (too far? definitely). IMG_3190 IMG_3241
  2. Sunset Beach: My absolute favorite beach on the island. The sand is just the right balance of soft and warm, the water brisk but refreshing. And it goes without saying that the sunset views are coma-inducing amazing.IMG_3169 IMG_3113
  3. The Laie temple grounds were closed when we visited, but peeking through the gate was a treat. There is something so special about knowing the gospel is world-wide. Feels like home. IMG_3159 IMG_3162
  4. Ted’s Bakery: Pie. Breakfast. Teriyaki. Rolls. Enough said.IMG_3292
  5. Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice: We may have gone twice in one afternoon. Ask for the condensed milk. It’s a game changer.IMG_3288
  6. Morning runs in the banyan trees that made me relive my love for Lost. And also kind of freaked me out. True story.IMG_3179
  7. It has always been my life’s ambition to drink from an actual coconut. High goals and dreams right here, my friends. Well, I found the perfect little roadside stand where I got that coconut. I may or may not have had a nasty stomach ache right after, but that is beside the point. Also: Ryan made me put a flower in my hair because he said it was really cute. Which may have made my heart flutter a little. IMG_3151

And with the burst of hot air #holthawaii13 comes to a bittersweet end. I only took almost 2 months to drag it out. But it really was such a special week in my life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity we had to spend some much-needed time together on that perfect island. It’s something I will always treasure.

#holthawaii13 Part II: Pearl Harbor

IMG_2850IMG_2904If you know me at all, you know I am quite the history buff. My fiendish love affair began clear back in the 1st grade when I eagerly devoured the American Girl stories. I would stay up way past bedtime using one of those little clip-on book lights (nerd alert!) and hide under the covers so my parents wouldn’t catch on to my blatant rule breaking. I literally spent hours daydreaming of everything from the American Revolution to growing a Victory Garden of my own. My whole life’s ambition was to own an American Girl doll that I could dress up in her very own bonnet and corset. Sadly, my dreams were never realized. I am still trying to recover.

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Thus it will come as no surprise to you that I absolutely HAD to go to Pearl Harbor while we were in Hawaii. Being the scatter-brained soul I am, I totally forgot to reserve tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial. I was devastated. I owe my life to a pretty helpful concierge who found out that there are a few tickets reserved for walk-ins…but we would have to be in line at 6:30 AM if we were going to have a shot at it. So Sunday morning we woke up early, grabbed a little breakfast to go and headed over to what felt like my destiny.IMG_2908I’ll have you know that getting there was quite the battle. First our GPS led us straight to the active military base in Pearl Harbor. You would have thought the barbed wire for miles would have tipped us off, but alas, we ended up at these intimidating guarded gates only to be turned away. Oops. Then at 6:45 AM we found ourselves on a highway that was abruptly closed for a triathlon. Needless to say, I may or may not have uttered a few choice words. My history love runs deep so thinking that we might not make it in time set my blood boiling. What more can I say?IMG_2890IMG_3032

At 6:45 we pulled up to the memorial, only to see a line the length of a football field wrapped around the buildings and down the street. I about cried. The angels of mercy must have been looking out for us, because we somehow still got tickets.

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The next few hours were spent in a haze of stories, audio tours, and the building of my appreciation for the men and women who serve us and our homeland. Really, I thought my beating American heart might burst from the pure pride and gratitude I felt as story after story of heroism and valor poured out of the audio headsets and into my soul.

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A few hours into the day, it was time for us to catch the ferry boat to the USS Arizona. I have to tell you, it was kind of eerie. And also reverent. I really don’t remember a single person calling out or causing a distraction the whole trip. The need to pay tribute to such hallowed ground seemed to permeate each and every tourist on that boat. The names of those still entombed in the Arizona stand quietly etched into a white marble wall, surrounded by leis from visitors and the bright ocean air. You could almost feel their presence wafting in through the entrance. Apparently a few quarts of oil escape from the sunken battleship every day, streaking the water. Those who survived call them “black tears”. Fitting, I think.

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Later that day we toured a submarine and rode a shuttle through the tropical rain to visit the airfields. All I can tell you is that I had the movie Pearl Harbor heavy on my mind and I kept envisioning Ryan in a pilot’s uniform. He was pretty much my very own Ben Affleck that afternoon. It was pretty sexy.

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The USS Missouri is a fitting place to end this drawn out description of one of my favorite Hawaiian days. Standing on the very spot the Japanese army unconditionally surrendered was, in a word, humbling. May we never forget the lives that were so freely given to bring an end to the most devastating war our world has ever seen.

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#holthawaii13 Part I: Ko Olina

IMG_2842When my work schedule for May was posted, I was happily surprised to find my shifts aligned so that I somehow had 6 consecutive days off. Bliss! My mind went insane and I immediately started planning wild vacations that included grand destinations such as Paris, Bali and Kenya. Ryan quickly assessed the situation, saw that I was not to be deterred, and rescued our savings account by steering me to a destination a little closer to home. Hawaii.

Perfect.

You see, since our honeymoon, Ryan and I have never taken a legitimate vacation just the two of us. Of course we love family vacations and time spent visiting said family in Utah, but we have been combating an itch to just leave this place and adventure out on our own. Job situations, school and money all prevented it before, but they just aren’t much of an issue/excuse these days. So I convinced Ryan that we had to carpe that diem and with reckless abandon we went for it.

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IMG_2584IMG_2520After a few suggestions from some of our favorite people (Whit and Dustin, we are in your debt!), we settled on Ko Olina, a resort-style town on the western side of Oahu. With anticipation in our hearts and salt water on our minds, we booked a room at the JW Marriott Ihilani resort and spa for a five-night stay in what was sure to be the celestial kingdom.

IMG_2827IMG_2790IMG_2528The JW was perfect. White marble hallways, an open oceanfront lobby, koi ponds everywhere. From the moment we arrived I began dreading leaving. Little, hot tears pricked my eyes every so often. It was kind of pathetic. And also lovely.

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IMG_2502IMG_2840Having Ryan all to myself in that balmy ocean air was the best kind of paradise. Without being too cliche and sappy, it was exactly what we both needed. An escape from the stresses of that grown-up adult world that we find ourselves in everyday. We slept in (scandalously late) ran by the ocean, gorged ourselves on french toast with coconut syrup, laid by the pool, laid by the beach, took naps, etc. Rewind, repeat. For five glorious days.

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We ordered way too much room service and fell asleep to the sound of the ocean crashing in the quiet lagoons below. If this is starting to sound like a romance novel, it’s because it pretty much is. I couldn’t take my eyes off the guy the whole time. It is all a warm ball of happy in my mind. And I’m not sorry about it.

IMG_2537IMG_2544IMG_2801Also: PADDLE BOARDING. My new favorite thing. I was dead determined before I ever even stepped foot on the island that I was going to be great at it. Better than Ryan (he always outshines me at that kind of thing and I was just not gonna have it this time). And guess what. I rocked it. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but it really was so fun. Maybe I should start a new fad…The San Francisco Bay Paddle Board Experience. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

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On one of the final nights we were there, we crept by a danger sign and ventured out onto a secluded and rocky beach. The sunset was pretty much mind-numbingly beautiful. We watched a quiet little couple crawl over the rocks, her in a white dress. I nudged Ryan and we looked on while they exchanged vows witnessed only by a dressed-down priest. Straight-up genius I tell you.

IMG_2722IMG_2680IMG_2774IMG_2712IMG_2683I think night-time at the resort was my favorite. Glowing tiki torches, soft hawaiian ukulele music floating across the beach and of course…the seafood buffets. I ate my weight in ahi, shrimp and papaya. It was nirvana.

IMG_2812IMG_2831IMG_2836That saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well I just gave you 20+ pics. Think about that. And I still don’t feel like I have even tapped the surface of how perfect Ko Olina was for us. Disgustingly cheesy? Yes. True? Absolutely.

To be continued…IMG_2616

Heaven’s Devils

IMG_3243One of the very first things I learned about Ryan when we were dating was his love for all things that involve two wheels. Motocross, dirt bikes, street bikes, bicycles, scooters…you name it. He’s pretty much smitten with that form of transportation. It must be something about the wind in his hair and the call of the open road. Actually it’s probably because there is something about danger and speed that gets that kid going like few other things do. Lucky me.

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A little history: a few weeks before we moved to California my car (oh that lovely Focus!) decided it hated the thought of leaving as much as we did, threw a temper tantrum and blew up. Awesome. We didn’t worry too much about it because we knew that Ryan would be taking the BART to work and so there really was no need for two vehicles. Which worked just swell when we lived a few blocks away from the train station. Then last summer we got all selfish and wanted more space (a tiny one bedroom apartment that would fit in my parent’s family room starts to wear on your sanity after awhile). So we packed it up (again!) and moved a few miles away where we have basked in two-bedroom bliss for the last year.

Which brings us back full-circle to the problem at hand (gosh, are you following me? I have quite the thing for tangents today). We now live a few miles away from the nearest BART so Ryan has been a true Christian saint and rode the bus to and from the station for the past year. Which tacked on an extra hour to his commute round-trip and left him with quite the unsavory taste in his mouth. Picture homeless people, urine and a nice whiff of garbage and you have basically experienced the bus trip yourself.

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So for the last six months or so we have been looking to add a second car to our loving family. Our requirements weren’t crazy…classy, willing to go where-ever, trust-worthy, a true friend…you get the picture. In the end my diligent guy simply could not find what he wanted in the price range he was willing to spend. (I’ll have you know that I broke down months ago and begged him to buy whatever…but the man is stubborn. And cheap).

Then a few weeks ago, my phone was flooded with pictures of two-wheeled machines that look and sound an awful lot like death traps and make me imagine life as a widow at 23. But there was something about that little gleam in Ryan’s eye and the way he so lovingly described every shining detail that made it pretty hard for me to say no. Also, I’d be lying if I said the thought of sleeping in on my mornings off instead of taking him to the station didn’t influence my concession to this seemingly crazy idea.

Less than two days after I gave my ok, Ryan was the proud owner of a 2009 Honda Rebel 250cc street bike (is that right, Ry? the details seem to escape me). Oh joy.

(On another side note…he bought it from the most charming older Englishman that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. From the way he offered us cold water the moment we stepped into his picturesque Berkeley home to his reassurance to me that Ryan wouldn’t die, I was sold. And he had the prettiest view of the bay from his kitchen I have ever seen…so obviously he had class.)

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What has surprised me the most about the “death trap” is how much I have actually grown to kind of love it. Ryan is giddy about it,which is pretty cute, and I would be lying if I said it isn’t more than slightly sexy when I watch him pull away on that thing. However, the best part has been the late afternoon/twilight rides we have taken together. There really is something about the wind on your face combined with a little bit of speed. Kind of magical.

(…Heaven’s Devils is the name of the biker gang Ryan and his friends are hopefully not starting. Heaven help us all.)

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In the spirit of Usher…

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These are my confessions.

I used to loathe Valentine’s Day. The sixteen-year-old version of myself despised it the most. A whole holiday full of ginormous stuffed teddy bears and dollar-store chocolate roses coupled with hormonal, angst-y teenagers swapping spit by their lockers was just too much for my tender heart.

Ok, I’ll cut the crap. I was totally jealous (hopefully my pride recovers from that acknowledgment). Pretty sure my talk with the universe went a little bit like this every February 14th…BRING ON THE GERBER DAISES AND MIXED CD’S FULL OF DASHBOARD CONFESSIONALS and OCTOBER FALL. WHEN THAT OFFICE AIDE COMES THROUGH THE CLASSROOM DOOR WITH A CHEAP HEART-SHAPED BOX FULL OF WAXY CHOCOLATE, LET IT BE FOR ME. I’M COUNTING ON YOU UNIVERSE. DON’T LET ME DOWN (insert sappy teenage girl sending cosmic thoughts into the great unknown).

Trouble is, it never really worked. I mean I had my fair share of those cute little butterfly-inducing crushes and a few noteworthy “relationships” (man I was soooooo mature) throughout the three years of weird that was high school. But Valentine’s day itself was always a super big let down. And I reacted with enough mellow-dramatic nonsense to win an Oscar…move over Meryl Streep.

Ever since then, I haven’t really gotten over my Valentine’s scrooge-ness. I scoff at conversation hearts and shake my head at grocery store roses. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan and I celebrate, but it isn’t a big thing in our house.

However, this year something changed.

I dunno what it was, but I woke up Valentine’s morning just brimming with love for my cute CPA (realistically that happens most mornings, but this was sappy/cheesy/ridiculous infatuation). Everywhere I went Cupid’s arrows shot me straight in the face. When I hit up the grocery store and saw the card aisles teeming with last-minute shoppers, hot tears literally sprang into my eyes. I could feel the love-vibes everywhere I went. I seriously skipped a few times.

So this year, I tried a lot harder. I sent cutesy texts to Ryan. I cleaned the house. I ordered an extra-special surprise online (which still hasn’t come…dang it!). I mean I even curled my hair. Yes I’m so lazy that curling my hair has become a meaningful gesture at our house. I guess I’m kind of like the Valentine’s Grinch -my heart grew two sizes that day!

To sum up our day in a few words, we ordered Mexican take-out, broke my cardinal PDA rule and made-out in public. It was awesome. And you know what… it was the best Valentine’s Day ever.

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I’d drive all night…

Well I would but I don’t have that great of a driving record, per se. So I guess I will just stick to the other kind of driving. The golfing kind. But then again, I’m not very good at that either. But you see, the husband is. And he is pretty hot when he is swinging those clubs.

EXHIBIT A:

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Moving on…this Saturday Ryan was craving a reconnection with his clubs, so we hit up the local golf course. It’s a real beauty I tell you. Who doesn’t enjoy the sound of low-flying airplanes served up with a side of dry grass…really sets a romantic mood.

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To be honest, it was a blast. While Ryan hit away at those little white balls I was lucky enough to watch him do it. And even hit a few of my own. Nothing quite like a Saturday with my love. Even if it includes looking like an idiot when I missed the ball (eleven times, but who’s counting?!). We finished off the date with some more romantic escapades that looked an awful lot like grocery shopping and gorging ourselves at the Guadalajara Grill. I’m nothing if not easy to please. And now for your viewing pleasure:

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xoxo,

Liss