Monday, November 27, 2017

Hawaii #4: Backyard Beaches & Waimea Valley

If you had the chance to check out my last post, you might remember that accidental shot of our girl getting stung by a Portuguese man o' war.  Of course, we actually had no idea until the next day exactly what had happen.  By the grace of God, some Google research, and dumb luck, we did just want we were supposed to do in treating it and were lucky to have no issues come from it.  The next morning while exploring the beach with my camera and looking for some shots to share what our backyard looked like, I saw several on the beach and began to put two and two together.

Needless to say, we quickly realized that spending time on the beach in our backyard, with 30 foot waves and stinging sea creatures, simply wasn't an option.  We went exploring to other beaches close by and my crew was amazing to tag along while I looked for more shots of our view.

After some debating over what activities everyone would enjoy, we decided to split up for a little bit.  This allowed me to wander a close by botanical area with a waterfall, while my husband and kiddos found a spot on a beach to play in some calmer waves and sand.

The area was so quiet and lush.  The trees were crazy tall and wide, which was so incredible.  And while the flowers only popped up occasionally, they were still fun to discover.

The end goal was being able to find and photograph the waterfall.  Once there, I was surprised to see it be more of an open swim area, but it was beautiful none the less.

 I headed back over to the beach as sun began to set and we were able to stand and watch the waves crash while the sun drew closer to the horizon.  The craziest thing was that even though there were lifeguards with megaphones telling surfers they might want to come in because of the waves, there were still people willingly getting into (and crushed by) the water.  If you look closely, you can even see a person in one of the waves in both of the bottom pictures.  Crazy.

Those colors became more and more varied and vibrant as the sun bowed out.  Truly amazing.  It was like watching God paint the sky.

 And even after the sun was gone, I feel like we could have sat and listened to the waves for hours (but we had some hungry bellies to feed).  We had just one last day on the North Shore before heading to Maui and my husband was on a hunt for a beach to boogie board and castle build on.  Looking forward to sharing those with you!

Until next time,

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hawaii #3: Hanauma Bay & The North Shore

On my first trip to Hawaii, my very favorite stop was Hanauma Bay.  I remember vividly how amazing I thought it was to look down from the cliff side and see the coral that covered the ocean floor.  I wanted to make sure that my family got to see that same view.

We spent a big portion of the afternoon here and enjoyed our time so much.  My boys got to do their first round of snorkeling and I even got to spend some time doing it too!

With Emma being too small to understand snorkeling, we spent a lot of time playing in the sand and wading in the water.  Check out my girl's imagination at work as she channels her inner mermaid.

Once we were all finished in the Waikiki area, we headed to our next stop at the North Shore, getting to see sunset as we drove.  We took a few stops along the way to awe at all that God made.  I am truly left speechless so often by the beauty He creates.

The weather the next day wasn't quite as sunny and magical as our first couple of days.  Something we were not prepared for was the difference in Waikiki and the North Shore, specifically the massive waves and rocks that lined many of the beaches there (something to be expected for the time of year we were visiting).  The waves were easily 20 feet or higher most days and with signs posted all over, swimming wasn't an option.  So my husband made sure to at least take our girl for walks on the beach and I made sure to catch it.

Not being natives to the area, we didn't know about various things to watch out for.  At the sunset stop on the way in, we returned to our car with shoes covered in biting ants.  After the first morning on the beach, we learned that sea urchins had been spotted on the beach (and Googled to find out what they looked like).  And if you look closely, you'll see where I unknowingly caught our girl right after we believe she got stung by a Portuguese man o' war (more on that to come in the next post).

With a cloudy and rainy day in store for our first day in the North Shore, we made sure to take it easy, catch up on homework and laundry (yep, boring stuff still has to be done in paradise), and do a little exploring. My crew made a stop at Shark's Cove (that last shot above), and my pictures stopped there for the day when our girl took a misstep and sliced open her ankle on some lava rocks. Definitely not her day, but we made sure to get her checked out and bandaged up and it didn't stop us from still having tons of fun as the trip unfolded.

I'm excited to share more of our adventures soon!  I sometimes turn on ocean waves sounds, close my eyes and can imagine I am still there; my hope is that you might too.

Until next time,

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hawaii #2: Pearl Harbor

Although this trip was my family's first chance to see Hawaii, for me, it was a second chance at paradise.  Due to the generosity of an amazing family (a cousin stationed there and my unbelievable parents), I was able to have a week's stay in Hawaii for a graduation gift.  However, because I was a teenager and always struggled to love history, when it rained the day we had slotted to go to Pearl Harbor, I voted to skip it.  It is a decision I have regretted every time I think about that trip.

This time, with a husband that has taught me a better appreciation for history, and a chance to have a do-over, I knew that wouldn't happen.  Pearl Harbor has so much to explore and learn about, and so we chose to take advantage of it all by spending the full day there and getting an audio tour that would fill us in as we walked (I always recommend these).  We spent the beginning of our time on the USS Arizona Memorial.  Words are a struggle to give the true feel for a place like this, but I will do my best as I go.

 While the ocean has begun to take over and create life out of loss, oil from the ship continues to slowly escape into the water each day.  Sometimes dubbed as black tears, it is said to be the tears of the crew lost that day.

The memorial and wall is both beautiful and breath taking all at one time.  Although you might have a size in your mind that you think it is, in person, it is so much bigger.

After exploring the Arizona Memorial, we headed back to wonder the rest of the Pearl Harbor Memorials and continue on our audio tour.

It was surreal to walk around.  We saw and heard about so many artifacts and models from our country's forced entry into war.  It was neat to see it all through the eyes of a teenager who is still learning about so much of our country's history.

Of course, as a photographer, the images are breath taking to me and are such a valuable piece of history.

After learning all the memorial had to share with us about the Arizona, we spent some time visiting the USS Bowfin Submarine and museum.  My family agreed that being able to walk around and see all the Bowfin had inside was a pretty surprising stop.

We also got to explore the Battleship Missouri and hear about her many missions.  My boys enjoyed this the most, getting to walk around the decks and have the guide tell them details they would never have known on their own. 

We spent our final bit of remaining time checking out the Pacific Aviation Museum.  I loved the images they use to welcome you!  Their space was a neat environment and had so many different planes on display with combat stories.

This stop was an incredible piece of our trip and I am so glad to be able to share it!  If you missed Stop #1 at Waikiki Beach & Diamond Head, you can head over here to read about it. Get ready for some beach hopping coming your way soon!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hawaii Stop # 1: Waikiki Beach & Diamond Head

If you really know me, you know that when it comes to the fight or flight of life, I flight.  If I am feeling overwhelmed, I need new air and the best way to get that is to leave where I am.  This year, we have had our fair share of things that have made me want to fly away, including 3 very close deaths.  In addition, I turned the big 4-0 this year, and although I have found that every new decade of my life has brought on something beautiful that I love even more than the last one, change is something I always approach with a nervous heart.  So, with a long list of things to take a break from, and a good excuse to celebrate, we boarded a jet plane and took our family on a beautiful ten day trip to Hawaii.

We decided that our first stop on the agenda would be Waikiki.  Many people warned us that the city is very touristy and busy, but the reality is that some major points of interest are located in Waikiki, so avoiding it means more time to travel in your car - and who wants that on vacation?  We opted to find a hotel close enough to walk across the street to the beach and get to those highly desired places quickly for the first few days.

After over 11 hours of travel in two different planes, and getting up at 4 am, it was vital that we head straight to the beach before filling our starving bellies.  My crew traded in their gym shoes for sandals and skipped over to squish the sand between their toes.

After soaking in some sweet sunshine and doing a little wave crashing, our girl switched out clothes and we took a stroll to a beachfront restaurant for dinner.  The restaurant had the most amazing burgers and you could hear and see the ocean from our table (talk about a dream).  That streaming light from behind my kids certainly took my breath away and made me take pause and thank God not just for being where we were, but for the blessings that I sometimes take for granted.

And as sun was setting, my husband encouraged me to sneak away for a sunset picture.  Of course, finding a clear shot I love wasn't actually as easy as stumbling out the front door (I walked two blocks to try and get rid of those signs, only to have more in my way later).

The next morning, with our bodies still set on Central time, we rose early and headed for a morning hike of Diamond Head State Monument.  Let's be clear, even though I love nature and have a trail hiking Boy Scout, hiking is not really my thing.  But, photos are, so I trekked some SERIOUSLY small spaces and steep inclines (DO YOU SEE THOSE TEENIE TINY ANT SIZED PEOPLE) for these shots.  I also get the honor badge that I hiked to the top of Diamond Head the year I turned 40.  =)

In the midst of everything, it was a magnificent view of the island and allowed you to see so much of how God touches the land and the seas.

While we didn't make it to the top before sunrise officially began (ok, and maybe we didn't even start before it), we still got to see some pretty amazing light shows.  And we stuck around a bit to watch the skies turn a beautiful shade of blue and those clouds begin to grow big and fluffy.  I DID make sure to take a picture of how far we had walked to get to the top (yep, that patch of green below is the center of the crater and is in front of the parking lot).  And then I stopped for a few shots of the surrounding area on our way back down.

Such a great start for our first full day!  In fact, we might have all gone back and taken a mid morning nap to help us re-coop from all the fun.  Can't wait to share more with you!  Next up?  The amazing Pearl Harbor!

Until next time,

Sunday, November 5, 2017

November 5-on-5: Halloween Traditions Changed

This year, for a list of various reasons, our family vacation took place the weeks preceding Halloween.  In some ways, this was a welcome change.  We had less crowds, our travel expenses were lower, and the weather was neither hot nor freezing.  On the downside, we weren't able to participate in a lot of our typical Midwest traditions, like pumpkin patches, jack-o-lanterns, or corn mazes.  Leave it to my family to find a way to sneak those things in someway.

Enter the 2008 Guinness Book of World Record's Largest Maze, located at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, HI.   While not made of leftover corn husks, this maze gave us a serious run for our money.  Not only a maze, but also a bit of a scavenger hunt (with a timed card to boot), the point of the maze is to "collect" all the various stencil markings available at 8 different spots with the maze.

It has been neat to see how my kids are beginning to fight for being in charge now that little miss is getting bigger.  For the biggest portion of the maze, we allowed our Life Scout to lead the way.

Once we were down to only one remaining stencil, we let our girl lead the line.  It was a HOOT to watch her be large and in charge.

Of course, if you know anything about my husband, you know that really, he's always in charge.  And so, taking shortcuts (or cheating) to beat the kids was his MO more than once.

In the end, we all had a lot of fun and were able to collect all 8 stencils.  We definitely didn't do it in record time, but then again, no one else had a 4 year old on their course.

Of course, there is much more to be seen from our trip that I look forward to sharing (so I hope you come back)!  In the meantime, I'm always excited and honored to share the work of the ladies I am lucky enough to be in this circle with.  Up next is Margaret Albaugh, Spokane Photographer.  Make sure to show her some love.

Until next time,