Tuesday, August 21, 2007

20 Grand Days Out

In 1979 I travelled with my family to the island of Yap. I have always wanted to go back, and the summer of 2007 we finally got to make that dream a reality. Our trip began with a visit to my parents house, for dinner and a nice evening visiting with them. We then slept there and my mom took us to the airport in the morning. We were supposed to meet up with them again at the airport in Guam before flying to Yap, although as you will see later, things changed a bit.

Our kids had never flown before, but they did really great. We tend to do very long roadtrips frequently, and our plane flights were all shorter than that and had easy access to the bathroom... We arrived on Hawaii and got settled into our hotel, the Aqua Ocean Tower. It met our needs, although the rooms could use a serious upgrade. The staff was awesome though.

The next morning we set off with a rental car to go get our passports. If you read the "oops" entry below you know why we needed to do this. We had an appointment at 9:30. We walked into the passport office, waited about 10 minutes, and were at the window. We walked out of the federal building at 10:10 including about 10 minutes spent taking turns for the restroom! It was absolutely awesome. I peeked at the appointment list for the day and noticed they were labeled from 1 to 10. That sure beat spending five hours in line in Los Angeles! We had to return the next day to get our passports, which we did. All told we spent 45 minutes getting our passports, as opposed to the 6-8 hours it would have taken us in LA, and we would have needed to wait days.

We had lunch at Maui Mikes, a restaurant we found in the book "Oahu Revealed" which is an excellent guide book. Maui Mikes was incredibly awesome. The chicken was cooked perfectly and really didn't need the sauces they gave us. If you are heading to Oahu and get a car (it's not in Waikiki, it's on the way to the Dole plantation) this is a must! It was cheap too. Maui Mikes was probably my favorite restaurant we ate at on this trip, and we ate at some very nice places...

We went to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, which is a tourist trap if I've ever seen one. Still, Patty wanted to go and we had a good time. Jacob is really into mazes these days so we, of course, simply had to go to the Dole Pineapple Maze. Patty was, as you can see, quite happy to see the finish line. The Dole Plantation was fun, but it was a total tourist trap. How many overpriced Pineapple souveniers can one person buy? Not only that, but Jacob decided he wanted to buy a piece of jewelry for his mommy. Needless to say the first necklace he picked out was like $100, a bit beyond his meager budget. It took quite a while for the saleslady to steer him toward stuff that he could actually afford. Still, we enjoyed the experience and are glad we went.

We moved on to a few lesser known sites on Oahu. First is the Hawaiian Birthing Stones. These stones are where the Hawaiian queens used to come to give birth to their children. Supposedly this process involved something like thirty elders of the tribe all standing around. Talk about a gallery! This place is considered sacred to Hawaiians, so we were respectful and when this gentlemen showed up to pray we moved out of his way and tried to keep the kids quiet.

After enjoying the Dole Plantation and the Birthing Stones, we moved on to the North Shore Area. This area was really beautiful. I think we just barely missed having a window broken out of our car based on the look of the guys who showed up as we were leaving the site where we took this picture. That's one of the unfortunate things about Hawaii, in that there are a lot of teenage types with nothing better to do than see what they can steal from tourists. Thankfully we have never had a problem, so I guess it's not a huge problem. Still, there is a lot of broken window glass around the touristy parking lots...

After a few great days on Hawaii we moved on to Guam, but that's for another post.


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