Saturday, February 28, 2009

Meet Me At The Swap Meet!

The swap meet at Aloha Stadium is THE swap meet to go to on the island. If there is any souvenir that you were hoping to buy while you are here, you can get it here cheaper than any other place. If you are here for only a short time, this is one place you DON'T want to go. You could easily spend an entire day here and frankly, you should be at the beach. If you have the willpower to go for only an hour or so, you could try that. But don't say I didn't warn you.

I thought the vendors would be inside the stadium. Instead, they circle the entire outside of the stadium. The vendors are elbow to elbow and many have the same items. When we first arrived, we walked under every tent and looked at every item. After a while, we started to see the same things over and over so we learned which tents to hit and which ones to pass.

Everyone is offering you, and only you, a special deal just for today. Very few things have a price on them so don't bother looking. You have to ask. And nine times out of ten you will hear, "For you? I give you special price. Only twelve dollah. Just for today. Just for you."


We found some great jewelry here, both the real stuff and the cheap stuff. My mother had found a pendant at a store earlier in the week that was $200. She found a similar pendant at the swap meet for $11. Thankfully she had declined to purchase the expensive version or she would have been sick on the spot when she found the cheaper one.






There are lots of handmade crafts with a native theme. I found some great things that I will eventually hang on my back porch fence to give it a Hawaiian feel.




There are great swimsuits and dresses all at fabulous prices. These usually do have prices marked on the rack. I don't know if they are negotiable but the prices are pretty darn good to start with.




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There were a couple of artists who would draw your name for you using palm trees, dolphins, mountains, etc for the letters. I particularly liked this man because he would make little "flourishes" with his hands as he painted.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leonard Arrives!

Leonard has arrived safely! We got him the most masculine lei we could find......

and the snazziest ride on the island!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Scream

Okay, how could you not get excited about an ice cream shop called:

Not only is it exotic, not only is it gourmet, but it's a palace! I couldn't think of a more exciting name if I tried!

So of course, we had to pull in and have some ice cream.

And I am here to tell you that is some goooooood ice cream! Hand-dipped ice cream is always better than store-bought ice cream because it's dipped by someone else's hands, not mine.

The guy who served us our ice cream never changed expression the entire time we were in there. We ordered five ice cream cones and never once did he smile, frown, grin, or scowl. He may have blinked a couple of times.

Katie and I each had a cone of "Chocolate Sin". I figured we'd better really enjoy it because apparently we were going to hell afterward.

It turns out it is really excellent ice cream and we did not go to hell for eating it. I think the "sin" part refers to this:

This is what Chocolate Sin looks like when your eight year old daughter breaks her cone in half in the car.

(When they make a movie of my life, someone should cue the scary music to start playing as we are heading to the car with ice cream in our hands.)

I ran back into the ice cream shop with the ball of ice cream dripping in one hand and the broken cone in the other. I didn't even have to ask for a bowl. Mr. Expressionless handed me one without a flicker of emotion.

(In retrospect, it may have been obvious what I was going to ask for.)

When I got back to the car with the bowl of broken ice cream I jokingly told Katie, "Get out. I'll come back in a week and if you're still here you can come back home."

She giggled. Boy does my daughter know me. I would have kissed her but I had enough chocolate to clean up already.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sea Turtles

Today we drove up to Laniakea Beach - unofficially known as "Turtle Beach". Turtle Beach is not advertised and there are no signs to let people know they are near it. I wouldn't even know about it except we had some friends visiting in January who told me about it. I looked it up online and found directions. The directions read, "When you see a bunch of cars pulled over on the right side of the road, that's it."

The reason for all this secrecy is to protect the turtles who come up on the shore to hang out and sunbathe. Scientists do not want people to interact with the turtles in any way. People are not to feed the turtles, touch the turtles, or even get close to the turtles. In other words, stay away. Leave the turtles alone!

So of course, we had to go see them.

There are volunteers there who put red ropes in the sand around the turtles. You can see one in the background of this photo. No one is allowed to cross the red rope.

There were three turtles sunbathing in the sand when we got there.

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Then, while we were standing there, a FOURTH sea turtle emerged from the waves and slowly made its way to a sunny spot.

This sea turtle weighs over 200 pounds and is about 35 years old. Volunteers document each turtle, what time it came up on the shore, what time it leaves, and any issues it appears to be having. They see the turtles so often they have named them and recognize who is who by their markings.

I was so excited by the whole experience, I filled out an application to be a volunteer.

I hope I get accepted!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ben's Big Day


Ben had his first campout with his new scout troop this weekend. We dropped the boys off Friday afternoon and were told to pick them Sunday at 10:00. Since our church service starts at 10:00 this is highly inconvenient. Add to that the fact that Ben really, really didn't want to miss church, AirSoft, or youth group. Sunday is his favorite day of the week because it's just full of fun and friends (poor unsocialized homeschooled kid).

So, to help him out, I showed up thirty minutes early to pick him up from camp. I figured if he wasn't too dirty and his teeth were brushed we could head straight to the church. If he smelled bad and was grimy looking, we could stop by the house for the fastest shower of his life and just be a little late to church.

Well, of course, none of the boys could leave early until the camp had been broken down and all equipment put away. This is only fair and right. If any boy were allowed to leave early without cleaning up, every boy would leave early without cleaning up. This is the law of boys and we all know it.

Ben really wanted to get a move on, so he was picking up tables and benches and practically sprinting to the storage shed with them. Other boys were s-l-o-w-l-y picking up equipment, and casually meandering over to the shed at a snails pace.

Finally, finally they let Ben leave because he had done so much work. I took a quick whiff as he got in the car and decided the quick shower would be our chosen path to church. He told me that they had asked him if he had a phone and he didn't want to lie so he said yes and they confiscated it. It was left on all weekend in solitary confinement and was dead.

He told me all about the camp out on the way home, raced in the house, showered, changed, and we headed back out, arriving at church a mere 30 minutes late.

After church, he left with his youth group and I told him to call me when youth group was done and I would come pick him up. He reminded me that his phone was dead and told me just to pick him up at 7:30 at the church.

About 6:00 I headed out to the car and realized I had left my cell phone out there when I saw it on the seat. I picked it up and saw three missed calls and two voice mails. My messages sounded something like this:

"MOM! Why don't you have your cell phone with you?!?! Youth group has been cancelled and they are locking up the church and everyone is leaving. My phone is dead and I don't know the house number yet! You really should have your phone on you! Chris and Jay are still here, maybe I could get one of their parents to give me a ride to the post gate and I could just walk home from there..........wait.........dang! I don't have my wallet! I can't get on to post! Mom! Why don't you have your phone with you?"

"Mom! Okay, I'm with Chris and Jay and we are hanging out in Times Square or Town Square or something. We're in a town somewhere. I need you to come and get me. You should keep your phone with you! Call this number: xxx-xxxx. That's Jay's phone. I can't believe you don't have your phone with you!"

So I called the number he left, ready to race off and find him wherever the heck he was (surely not Times Square) and finally made contact with him.

"Uh, yeah I'm not sure where we are," he told me.

"Well I need to know or I can't pick you up," I pointed out.

"Well, we're hanging out and we're talking about going to a movie or something. I'll just call you when I want you to come get me."

Such is frantic stop and go life of a teen on Sunday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Stoll Down Waikiki Beach

Come stroll down the street by Waikiki Beach with me!


You can watch a man building an elaborate sandcastle.

If you really like it, you can put some money in his bucket to support the arts.

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You can watch a mime sit as still as a statue.

If you put money in his bucket he will dance for you.

There was a guy begging for money on the street, but in Waikiki Beach, having a gimmick will get people to give you their money a lot faster.

You can stop in at The Stupid Factory and read funny tee shirts and funny pajamas.

You can stop in front of the statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku and try to throw a lei up onto his arms. You can call your friends and tell them to log in to http://www.honolulu.gov/multimed/waikiki.asp
and you can wave at them.

Then you can stop at the statue of Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole and if you don't know who he is, you can find out here.

Cemetery Day

Today, we decided to visit the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii. Because Hawaii is the only state to have once had a ruling royal family, we thought it would be interesting to see their mausoleum.

This is a very tiny sign on the outside gate. We actually passed the mausoleum at first because it does not have any signs directing you to it. Even after we drove past and turned around and came back, we weren't sure if that was it. There is nothing to lead you to believe that this is where the Hawaiian royal family rests.


The Internet says that you can go in the little chapel and pray for the royal family. Don't you believe it. It's locked up tight. If you want to see the inside of the chapel you can view it here.


King Kamehameha II, III, IV, and V are all buried here. Some were originally buried at Iolani Palace but were moved to this location after Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma chose this site as a mausoleum for their son Albert who was only four years old when he died. Again, all my info comes from the Internet, as there were few signs giving information.



There were some names on this monument. I have no idea who are the people behind the names, as again, there were no signs and no information given about who they are or why they are buried here. I did see a monument to Charles Reed Bishop and I knew who he was because I have a membership to the Bishop Museum.


Stairs down to an ornate door. AGAIN, I think this might be where someone is buried. The stairs are roped off so we couldn't even walk down to the ornate door to peer through it and see what was behind it.

This is the only sign with info on it. It does tell the names of the people buried there, but not nearly as much as I would like to have known.

But there is a great climbing tree there.................

Then we decided to visit the Punchbowl Cemetery which honors war veterans.
It's quite a climb to the top!

There are thirty-nine little walled gardens all the way up each side of the staircase and each wall has the names of soldiers killed in battle inscribed on it.

The monument at the top of the stairs.

There is this unexpected, pretty little chapel behind the monument.


The view from the top is really awesome too! This is really a beautiful, peaceful place for a memorial to our service men and women.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Skype

Kerry has gotten a computer over there in Afghanistan and he emailed me to tell me that he had downloaded Skype so we could try having a video conference using the computers. I added his user ID to my contacts list and Skype advised me to "introduce myself" to him so he would know who I was.

(ahem)

"Hi. I'm Amy. Your wife. You might remember me. We met at the front of a church once. I had on a white veil. I was the only person wearing one that day - ringing any bells? I'm also currently in possession of all your worldly goods and the three heirs to all those goods. I love pina colodas and getting caught in the rain. Give me a call sometime!"

Dole Plantation

Today we decided to visit the tourist mecca: Dole Pineapple Plantation.

Home of everything pineappley.

We did try out the maze, but somehow never found our way to the Pineapple Express or the Garden Tour.

Emily and Katie found teddy bear heaven in the gift shop.


You can find all manner of things pineapple related: pineapple candy, pineapple soap, pineapple lotion, pineapple coffee, pineapple tee shirts, pineapple pens, pineapple ice cream (and ONLY pineapple ice cream - don't even think about asking for chocolate - they don't have it) and pineapple doggie treats among a million other things.



There is a hedge maze which is the world's largest permanent maze.


There are eight "stations" hidden in the maze and your job is to find all of them and trace the stencil at each station onto your ticket.


We found three of the stations in thirty minutes and by that time we were hot and thirsty.

When we met a family who had been in there for an hour and a half trying to find all the stations, we decided we'd have to come back when we had better prepared ourselves with hiking boots, water bottles and spelunking equipment.


We refreshed ourselves with some pineapple ice cream.



Then we watched a pineapple demonstration where we learned how to tell a ripe pineapple from an under ripe or over ripe pineapple.


We learned the proper way to murder it.


And the best way to dissect it...............


...............the better to impress your guests with, my dear.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Haleiwa

Haleiwa (pronounced Holly-eeva) is an historic town on the northwest part of the island. It dates back to the days of the sugar plantations and the locals make sure it retains that scenic charm.



The main street is full of pretty little storefronts. This really is like walking into a little beach village. Everything is painted in soft but colorful hues. I call them "beachy" colors but I don't know if anyone knows what colors I'm talking about when I say it. Surely if "earth tones" means something, then "beachy colors" means something........

There are a number of really good restaurants there. We went to a homestyle Mexican restaurant which had wonderful food.

It also has beachy colors inside.


There was a non-beachy chicken pecking around the outdoor tables. Wild chickens are all over Hawaii and it's just hilarious to me to find one strutting around looking for table scraps.


There are lots of pretty little shops.


There's a surf museum which is free (it's hard to beat free). It has lots of surfing memorabilia. You can see the "evolution of the surfboard" in the lineup of old surfboards there and pictures of many famous surfers. The owner even sells a collection of jewelry that he finds on the beach with a metal detector. He has quite a collection of wedding rings. (Take your special jewelry off before you go in the ocean people!)

This is the first motorized surfboard.


Shave ice. The scourge of washing machines everywhere.


We checked out the beach and watched people jet skiing and lots of folks paddle surfing. It's just what it sounds like --- you stand on a surfboard and propel yourself around with a paddle.


The view on the beach is excellent. You have the ocean and the mountains all in one spot. There was a local band setting up for a concert and the music they were playing just really suited the mood of the beach and the glorious weather.
Haleiwa is what my idea of Hawaii was like before I got here. So many areas of Hawaii are really built up with tall buildings and hotels. This town is laid back, relaxed, and pretty. It really looks like a true surfer's town.