Thursday, September 17, 2009

Maui Sunsets

Chris has picked up a new hobby since moving here to Hawaii; he loves to photograph sunsets. While in Maui he had plenty of opportunity to capture some truly breath taking sunsets. The funny thing is, this is just a few of his pictures. I think we could make our millions if he decided to give up dentistry, and start his own post-card company. I'm glad he has such a beautiful hobby.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maui....Take 2

**WARNING** Extremely Long Post!
Alright, I put the title of this post "Maui...Take 2" because this is actually our second trip to Maui. Our first trip was last November with Chris' parents. We had so much fun, BUT we were only here for 3 days, and it rained most of the time. Once we got home I told Chris that trip didn't count! We had to come back. we go again. Chris had an Army conference here for Mon.-Thurs., then he had Fri.-Mon. off for Labor Day. Since part of the trip was already paid for, we decided to extend Chris' stay and use the long holiday as a family Maui vacation. The kids and I flew in Wed. afternoon. After a little bit of trouble at the airport (who would guess there could be so much hassle for a 20 min. flight?!) we were off to Chris' resort. He couldn't meet us at the airport since he was at a Zip-line doing team building exercises. Lucky him. He met up with us later to get us settled, then he was off again to a Luau. I opted not to go, but stayed with the kids for some swimming and relaxing. This resort is on the northern west side of Maui in the Ka'anapali area.
One of the things I love about Hawaii is their traditions and history. As I was watching the kids swim I noticed men in traditional Hawaiian costumes (basically a loincloth and lei) going around lighting the tiki torches, and blowing in a conch shell. I thought this was pretty cool, then I noticed a man, similarly dressed, hiking out to a big group of rocks and lighting the tiki torches on the rocks. I asked a man sitting next to me what he was doing, and he told me of one the the Hawaiian legends about King Kahekili. You can read a brief synopsis of the tradition at the resorts site : It was so neat to watch this man do a short ceremonial dance? (for lack of a better word), throw a lei into the ocean, then dive in.
I think my kids are part fish. They would live in the water if I would let them.
Here are some pictures of the resort. It was beautiful, but because the rooms only had 2 full size beds, we opted to switch resorts as soon as Chris was done with his conference.
After checking out, we explored a little of the island on our way to our new hotel. We stopped in a cute, kind of touristy town call Lahaina. I made Chris take a picture of this cemetery which was right next to the beach. Chris told me he hoped we wouldn't get "cursed" for taking this picture. It was a little creepy.
We stopped at the famous Banyan Tree Park. This is only one tree, but it takes up the whole 3/4 acre park. The kids had fun climbing and exploring, and Chris and I had fun taking pictures.
Next we went to an area called the 'Iao Valley. We tried to come here last year, but the road was closed due to flash flooding. This time around there was no rain in sight. It was a beautiful, lush canyon. Here, we learned a little more of Maui's history. It was in this canyon that King Kamehameha finally took victory over Maui, after numerous attempts to conquer the island. The women and children took refuge in these mountains as they watched their men die in a vain attempt to keep their independence. The battle was so bloody, and there were so many dead bodies piled in the stream, they called the battle Kepaniwai, which translates into "the damming of the waters." As we were sitting is this peaceful setting, it was hard to imagine such a gruesome battle.
This landmark is called the 'Iao Needle. It is actually 1200 ft. tall. It sure doesn't look that big, huh?Ok, so now onto my FAVORITE part of our vacation. You would think it would be the beaches, or the mountains, volcanoes, or scenery, but no, it was our resort. By kind of a fluke we ended up in a suite at a five star resort, The Four Seasons. How we ended up here is too long for this blog, but if you would like to know the details, call me.
We were greeted with leis, then brought up to our room to this:The chocolate turtles were on a bed of sand (crushed graham crackers), with cookies and drinks. They also had alphabet sponges that spelled each kids' name in the bathtub, and put stuffed animals on their beds. I had requested a pack and play, but no...not at this hotel. They not only brought in a full size silver crib, with the cutest bedding, but also put a diaper genie in the bathroom, gave us organic baby toiletries and included a " sleeping" sign to put on the door, so housekeeping wouldn't wake him. Speaking of housekeeping, they had twice daily service. The evening service was to turn down the beds, turn on the lights, put on soft Hawaiian music, and put slippers next to the bed. Our suite had 2 bathrooms, and the master bath was bigger than my kitchen at home. Here is the kids in one of our 2 lanais. The other one had a dining set.The resort had 3 pools, although we only got to swim in 2 of them. The third one is a serenity pool and had just opened a few weeks ago. It was an adult only pool, because it had a swim up bar. I wish I had gone up there just to experience the underwater music.Here is Chris enjoying his POG. It has become our favorite island juice. The kids loved the keiki pools, and all the pool toys that were included. Here is the lighting of the torches ceremony again. I guess all the resorts do it?After the kids exhausted themselves swimming, they wanted to go to the game room. This "room" was actually 3 rooms. In one room was 2 pool tables, a Foosball table, shuffleboard, computers, and a big screen TV and couch. The other room had ping pong, and the last room was a sound proof room (thank-goodness) for all the video games. This was by far Dallin's favorite area. Here is Chris and Corynn rocking out to Guitar Hero. Here's the kids the next morning, waking up to Disney channel. I think even Masen is becoming a Hannah Montana fan.The resort offered complimentary keiki camp called Kids For All Seasons. It's a day camp for 5-12 year olds, and you can sign them up for individual activities, part day, or full day. Corynn and Dallin were so excited to go, and opted for the full day. See their individual blogs for their fun 2 days at keiki camp. Chris and I took advantage of a full day in Maui with no kids (well, we still had Masen). First we went shopping, and out to lunch, then decided to go up to Mount Haleakala, the name meaning, "house of the sun." It was so awesome! Everyone says to go watch the sunrise, but leaving my resort at 3 a.m. did not sound like something I wanted to do while on vacation. During the day was just fine, thank you very much. On my way up though, I can see why the sunrise would be so amazing. You go up...up...up above the clouds. I can just imagine the sun rising through the clouds. Once we got to the top, I really feel like I was on top of a volcano. In some places it felt like I was on the moon. The craters, the barren landscape, and the rocks were beautifulOne of the Hawaiian legends is that the demigod Maui had a grandmother that complained of the days being too short to get chores done. He came up to the top of this mountain where the sun slept in a crater and waited for it to rise so he could lasso it. Upon being captured the sun agreed to slow down 6 months of the year, and return to it's normal pace the other 6 months.The next day, the kids went to keiki camp again, hooray! Chris and I decided to take the road to Hana. They say it is Heaven's Highway. It is only like 35 miles long, but everyone told us to make a day out of it. There are supposed to be many waterfalls you can get out and see, and pools you can stop and swim in. Well, we had a baby asleep in the back of the car, so the scenery had to be enough for us. When we started, we expected a short trip and balked at the 35 mph signs. A little while into the trip, I (who never gets car sick....ever) got car sick. The roads are so twisty, windy and narrow. There are almost 60 bridges, and every single one of them is a one lane bridge you have to share with oncoming traffic. I expected it to be like the Alpine Loop (for any of you Utahns), but this drive made the Alpine Loop look like a freeway. I had read that there aren't really any good places to eat in Hana, so you should bring a picnic lunch. My own personal theory is that by the time anyone gets to Hana, they are so car sick nothing tastes good. The scenery was spectacular though, and I lament that there weren't more spots to pull over to take a picture. The few spots there were to pull over were all full of people hiking to the falls. We didn't dare stop in the middle of the road for fear someone would hit us coming around a blind curve.Once we got to Hana we found a really nice restaurant and ate lunch. And yes, it actually was very good. It felt good to get out of the car for a little while. Here is Chris after eating. I wasn't in the picture because my face was probably still green :) After being in the car so much, we all decided to spend our last full day at the resort, the beach, and the surrounding town. We had fun swimming, playing tennis, and chillin' in our room. Have I mentioned how much I loved our resort?
Here I am, waiting for the valet, getting ready to leave. We were sad to go. Chris swears that this is how he plans to vacation from now on. How can we ever be happy at a plain old Marriott ever again?! Once we got home though, and looked up how much our 5 star suite WOULD have cost, we agreed that this was probably a once in a lifetime thing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

13 Years and Counting

It's hard to believe that Chris and I have been married 13 years already. Sometimes I can't remember life without him, and other times it seems we are still newlyweds. He was so sweet and came home with a lei and roses. I had wanted to do something big like a helicopter ride, or dinner cruise (OK, I have been watching waaaay too much of the Bachelorette) but Chris convinced me to go low key since we had a trip planned to Maui the next week. Some friends watched the kids while we had dinner at Ko'Olina at sunset. It was beautiful and romantic, even with a baby in tow.13 years ago, I don't think I could have imagined our life now. It's better than I ever dreamed, and so much of that is due to Chris. He is a good husband, father, provider, and priesthood holder. He is my best friend. Babe ~ here's to growing old together.

Back to School

School in Hawaii starts pretty early, so on July 31st, it was back to school for Corynn and Dallin. Corynn, 5th grade, and Dallin 3rd grade.
We are looking forward to a great year!