Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hawaii Day 8 - July 18th

Our last day in paradise. (Here's the pictures.) There were no activities planned for this day, so it was also a "free day" for us. Since Kerstin's dad is a firefighter, he was tuned in to where all the Honolulu fire stations were. Fire Station #7 was about four blocks from our hotel, so we just had to stop by and visit. We permission of the on-duty firefighters, we took pictures with Engine #7. We were hoping to get some pictures with the ladder truck assigned to Station #7, but they were gone on a call. (Ladder #7 has a surf board attached to the side of it.)

After visiting the fire station, we headed back down to Aloha Tower to visit the ukelele store there and eat lunch at Hooters. Even though we don't have any pictures of it, we went back to Waikiki Beach for a couple more hours of fun in the sun since this was our last day there.

Next, we cleaned up, packed up, and went to a real nice restaurant just across from the beach. All week we had been trying to catch the sunset, but had only been successful a couple of times (with clouds). We were hoping this would be the night since the restaurant was on a second story deck right across from the beach. Unfortunately there were palm trees in our line of sight with the sunset, but it was still beautiful.

After supper we loaded up the rental car and drove to the airport. This was probably our least favorite part of the trip. It's never fun doing the "hurry up and wait" routine at the airports. Our flight didn't leave Honolulu until 10:55pm (Honolulu time). We arrived in Phoenix just after 8am local time on July 19th. From there we changed planes and arrived in Omaha at around 2pm where Deb and Kaylen from Make-A-Wish met us. Deb and Kaylen were there to welcome us back and to gather our film from the cameras that the girls had used while we were in Hawaii. Our limo was also there waiting to take us back to Lincoln.

WOW!!! What a trip. We hope everyone has enjoyed the stories and the photos. We would like to send out a "GINORMOUS" thank you to all the Make-A-Wish people in the Nebraska and Hawaii chapters, and everyone else that has ever donated to this wonderful organization.

We hope you will continue to check in on Kerstin to see how she is doing as she goes in to the last six months of her current chemothearpy treatment. (Hopefully her last six months.) Please keep all the other children who continue to battle this disease in your thoughts and prayers. And pray for all those who continue to search for a cure for all cancers.

God bless and take care.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hawaii Day 7 - July 17th

On day seven we split up. Jeff wanted to go hike the Diamond Head State Monument and the girls didn't find that appealing. So while Jeff was hiking, the girls went to Hilo Hattie's to do some shopping.

We all met for lunch, then got ready for the luau. The shuttle bus for the luau was supposed to pick us up at 3:30pm, but it didn't arrive until about 4:15pm. That was ok because we started out at the wrong spot to get picked up. (Lots of shuttle buses + lots of pick up points = very confusing) Thanks to rush hour traffic it took about an hour and a half to crawl along the highway to the resort where the luau was being held. Once we got there though, we had a really good time. There were all kinds of "native" Hawaiian activities to do before dinner and the show. Dinner was excellent. They served pork, chicken, fish, and plenty of side dishes. (And it was all-you-can-eat) During the show the girls got to go up on stage and show off their hula skills. It was late by the time we got back to the hotel and we were wiped out from a long day.

Click here for the pictures.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hawaii Day 6 - July 16th

On this morning we got to go on a submarine ride. We were under water for about 45 minutes and went as deep as 119 feet. We saw all kinds of fish and some sea turtles. During the winter months there are Humped Back Whales that swim in these waters. We were curious to see how the girls handled being cooped up in the submarine and under water, but it didn't even phase them. I think there was so much stuff to look at that they were too distracted to get scared. The submarine company has sunk four artificial habitats over the past 18 years to attract the fish to these waters. The neat thing is that these are public waters and people are allowed to scuba dive here as well. It is amazing to think how clear the water is to be 100 feet under water and still be able to see 40-50 yards in front of you.

For lunch we stopped at Burger King for a Whopper with pineapple. Just kidding. Hawaii's Burger King serves the same stuff as Nebraska's Burger King. Then it was off to the beach. (Except for Jeff who was fighting a head cold and needed some extra rest.) Jeff did feel good enough to go to the beach after his nap and everyone really enjoyed the great weather in the afternoon.

Our evening consisted of walking down to the International Market Place where we ate supper at Coconut Willie's. After supper we strolled the market for bargains. The market place is about a block in length and as wide as a four lane highway. Kerstin and McKinsey found their grass skirts and sarongs. One of the shops even had a couple of cockatiels they let us hold. The evening flew by quickly and it was time to head back to the hotel and go to bed.

Click here for pictures

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Watering the Yard...

...with water balloons. Later in the evening, when it was still 100 degrees, we had some of the neighborhood kids (and their parents) over for another round of water balloon fights. After we ran out of water balloons it was time to turn on the sprinkler and eat pop cycles. Everyone got cooled down, and the yard got watered. What a deal.

Hawaii Day 5 - July 15th

Today is another one of our "free days", so we went to Pearl Harbor to see the USS Arizona Memorial and the USS Bowfin submarine attraction. (Click here for the pictures.) We knew we would have to get an early start if we wanted to beat the crowds and see as much as we could. The gates to the Arizona Memorial don't open until 7:30am, so we figured if we got there by 7:00am we would be in pretty good shape. As you can see by one of the pictures, there were about 300 other people with the same idea. By the time the gates opened, the line had circled around in to a spiral shape on the "front lawn" area. On a side note, ever since 9/11, security is very tight there: no bags of any kind allowed. Just you, your wallet, and your camera. Part of the Arizona Memorial experience is a 15 minute video presentation on the history of Pearl Harbor, the Memorial, and the museum. By the time we got in we were in the 4th group to see the video (shown in a small movie theater). From there they take you by ferry to the Memorial. It is a very moving experience. You are asked to remain silent and thoughtful from the time you enter the movie theater, while you are on the Memorial, until you are returned to museum area. Most people respect this request. We spent about 3 1/2 hours at the USS Arizona. From there we went next door to the USS Bowfin submarine exhibit.

The USS Bowfin is a WWII submarine that is now de-commissioned and used tourist attraction. It was incredible to actually go aboard and in this submarine. There is a self -guided tour that uses an audio player and headphones to guide you around the submarine and explain what you are looking at. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like spending months at a time on a submarine like this. After touring the submarine, we walked around the other submarine exhibits on the property. As you can see by the pictures, there is a "conning tower" taken from another sub, periscopes, and torpedoes to look at. After lunch, we went through the submarine museum which covered everything from the invention of the submarine, right up to modern day subs.

We had planned to go to the beach for the rest of the afternoon, but with weather was overcast and we needed naps. The girls did spend a little bit of time in the hotel pool. After resting up (and cleaning up), we walked down the street to Chili's for supper. We know this violates Uncle Jay's rule of: never eat at any place that you can at home. However, we like Chili's and it sounded good to us.

Water Balloon Fight

The girls have been talking smack about a water balloon fight for a couple of weeks. So, we finally loaded them up. We only had a small round one early this afternoon (parents vs kids). But the girls are going to try and recruit some help from some of the neighbor kids later for the big finale. We'll let you know how it turns out.