Monday, September 30, 2013

The Three Week Journey: Hawaii Edition

Continuation of the long, long trip out west... and west-er into the Pacific...

We decided that it would be a special experience for the children to spend time with Ben and Rylee, their cousins, while Carl and I went to Hawaii. From our nightly video chats via FaceTime, they seemed to be having endless amounts of fun! So spoiled by Uncle Cody and Aunt Cherie :) I feel like they went above and beyond to make sure the children were having a good time. So grateful that they could get to know their cousins better!

Cody kindly drove us to the airport at the butt crack of dawn and from here, Carl and I embarked on our first vacation together since the babies- really, it was the first vacation we've been on. And it was so fun and full of activities!

Preface: We I had done a large majority of the trip planning a month or two in advance- reservations for activities, route planning, vehicle planning, etc. The trip itself was booked in early February. I'd say that 90% of our activities we were able to do because of the Go Oahu card, which I highly recommend if you want to pack your vacation with lots of activities- Costco Travel had a sweet deal on it. It was only possible do as much as we did in the 3 days we had the pass because we did not have our kids with us. I was initially going to post day by day, but am I crazy? That would be too much to type. I'll let the pictures speak:

arriving from the sky, catamaran sail, paddleboarding (with a sour face because I sucked)

hawaiian farmland

dole plantation: cool tree, baby pineapple!
polynesian cultural center- luau, friendly ducks I spent $5 feeding throughout the day
being goobs and "slyly" taking photos of each other at the luau

Kualoa ranch: awesome jeep tour guide who photobombed us with a t-rex, carl in front of the sign, goat sitting on a tree, beautiful scenery, actual coconut fallen out of a tree, WWII jeep jungle tour, and of course, another animal (tortoise) I obsessed over. Look at his nostrils and grass munching-ness! Gah!

We rode mopeds over half of the island!
Pearl Harbor

Iolani Palace: hawaiian royalty, classic carl pose in front of something important, grand staircase in the entry

snorkel snorkel!

my favorite: the LDS Laie Temple

Recommendation regarding Oahu:
1) Utilize The Bus for nearby activities that are a little too far to walk. If you only have a small carry-on, you can use it to go to and from the airport! Which we did and it only cost us $5 total. Steal!
2) Rent a car for 1-2 days but be prepared to NOT find parking in Waikiki. It was nice to have a car to go tour Northshore and to drive through the farm land. Nothing more gorgeous than a blue sky, red dirt, and greenery framing the land. We were (are) in love.
3) Walking is totally doable if you are just hanging out in Waikiki. Everything is so close!
4) Tight budget? Many hotels that aren't right on the beach have cheaper rooms, are only a block away from the beach, and come with a kitchenette. We hit up Costco (the most amazing Costco, btw) the first day and bought water, a few items for breakfast and lunch, and were set for several of our meals. Of course we still dined out- I was a big time Yelper and forced Carl to be a foodie with me as we experimented with all the 4-5 star rating restaurants on the island.
5) Again, we loved our Go Oahu cards. So many activities for almost half the price- but it's only worth it if you do many of the activities. I basically went down the list and chose the most expensive and interesting activities first and then filled in other activities that would cost less such as surfing or touring the Iolani Palace
6) As for non tourist activities, we really liked our phone cases/wet bags for water activities- they were dorky, but cheap and did the job perfectly. We even went snorkeling with them!

Such an adventure, so much fun to be alone with my man. It was a refreshing break, as much as we missed our babies every. single. second. Would I do it again?


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Three Week Journey: Oregon Edition

You read it, we went on a three week trip! 10 days in Oregon, 6 days in Hawaii, and 5 more in Oregon. Woah. And you know what? We actually weren't too burned out by the end of the trip nor did we get sick of family (haha!)

First,10 days in Oregon

We endured two sleepless, eye-burning flights with two very upset children, but we arrived just in time for lunch with almost all of Carl's immediate family! So good to be visiting after moving away two years ago. We spent several days visiting the grandparents, riding four-wheelers around the property, and enjoying the warm Oregon summer- the sun was out, it hardly rained, and we weren't drowning on dry land from the humidity. It was gorgeous.

We joined forces with the siblings (you were missed, Chris and Katie!) and parents again a few days later and went camping near the coast for two days. I guess I'm a weenie now because that was hard with two kids. While it was fun to be with everyone and chat, catch up, we were happy to be sleeping in a bed upon our return. I'm quite a poor historian when it comes to taking pictures- I think it has something to do with paying attention to kids and making sure they don't walk off with strangers or run into traffic..

The following days were spent relaxing and preparing for HAWAII! The man and I were nervous. I could not imagine ditching our poor children and going off to paradise. Would it still be paradise without my children? Could I still have any fun? Was this going to be an amazing experience? To all those questions, you betcha.

*** hawaii for 6 nights coming up this week***

Upon our return from Oahu, we had 5 days left in Oregon. We decided to rent a car so that we could have a little more independence for the remainder of our trip. We didn't do too much in the last few days, but really, our whole trip was meant for a visit to all the family we've been missing while off in Wisconsin. I loved meeting my nieces, Rylee and Evelyn. I loved seeing my nephew, Benjamin, all grown up into toddlerhood, running around and going on mischievous adventures with Ezra. I loved playing pinochle late into the night and being on the same team as my mother in-law so that we could gang up on our spouses. I loved seeing my sibling in-laws in all their new stages of life of being parents, race runners, and students again- so proud of each of their accomplishments!

It was wonderful to visit and have so many visitors. We got to see most of Carl's aunts and uncles (including a big bear hug and punch in the shoulder from Uncle Doug), we took turns napping, and Carl didn't touch any school work the whole time- a few small regrets when he started school the following Monday, but nothing to cry about.

Oregon, you have always been good to me and you did not fail again. Looking forward to another adventure!
signage like this always cracks me up. "ahhh!"

all photos taken by tracey

Sunday, September 22, 2013

She Returns!

Let me begin by saying that I have traveled for approximately 5 weeks total. 'Nuff said.

In upcoming days, weeks, and hopefully months, I am planning on writing regularly again. I keep putting it off and have a few drafts saved up in my post pile, but excuses have expired and it's time I get back to blogging again.

I can't wait to tell you all about Oregon, Hawaii, and California- yes, I really did go to all those places in 5 weeks' time.

Grandpa Lockwood's 90th birthday- even 90 year olds can FaceTime

* I would also like to say thank you for everyone's kindness and prayers for Carl's family. As many of you read on Facebook, Carl's uncle tragically died last week and another uncle was severely injured (though his injuries were taken care of very well and he is expected to have a full, but long, recovery). It has been difficult for everyone to comprehend these events and to try and continue to have a normal day, but the responses received are overwhelming and I know that Carl's cousins are especially grateful. Thank you!