Monday, January 28, 2013

Photo Contest

I entered a photo contest that Gary found while we were flying to Hawaii in the airlines magazine.  First place is two first class tickets anywhere Alaska Airlines flies to including Canada, Mexico, Alaska and Hawaii, 2nd place is two coach tickets to the above places and 3rd place is coach tickets to only the contiguous states.  Winners will have their photos published in the May magazine for Alaska Airlines.  We figured why not.

The photos could be of anything as long as they were taken at places that is serviced by Alaska Airlines.  All of mine were taken in Oahu.  The deadline to enter is Feb. 13 and I already mailed mine in.  I would imagine that the winner would be notified sometime in March or April.

Here are the photos that I submitted.

China Man's Hat & Turtle Islands

Sunset on Waikiki Beach

Night scene of Waikiki

Friday, January 25, 2013

Grand Island Tour

On this tour we had to be at the Aloha Landing at 7:00 am.  This is the one that took us all around the island with many stops.  It was a pretty full bus and since we were one of the first ones on, we got great seats.

Our first stop was as Hanauma Bay, it's horseshoe shaped and we were told a great place to snorkel if you are just learning how.  A very calm bay.  Next was the Blow Hole, it was a nice photo stop.  We weren't lucky enough to see a whale during the migration season.

Hanauma Bay

The Blow Hole

We stopped in one little town for a potty break and to stretch our legs, we picked up some snacks to eat as lunch was a ways off.  Our next stop was to be the Pali Lookout but due to a traffic accident that was closed so the driver said if enough time we will come back.

We stopped at the Byudo-In Temple, this is one thing we all wanted to see.  Gary and I missed this when we were there six years ago.  This was very nice we all rang the bell then Jennifer and I wandered through the temple.  She knew all the rules, we had to take off our shoes before entering the temple.  Some people had a problem with this, then we shopped in the little gift shop.  Took a bunch of photos and I have one for our Christmas card this year.

Byudo-In Temple

Our next stop was the Kuakola Ranch, we had a 20 minute tram ride called Legends & Legacy.  It was ok but quite boring for us as we have seen cows before.  Although I have to admit that they were pretty skinny cows and a rancher from this part of the US would have a fit.  We ate lunch here.  Gary and I took the buffet which we got a discount on, while Jennifer went a la carte.  It was good and a very nice break.

From here we made a couple stops on beaches.  One stop at Sunset beach a dog came to Jennifer with it's stick and wanted to play.  Whenever Jennifer went to throw the stick the dog would snatch it up before she could pick it up.  It was fun to watch and another guy on the bus tried.  The dog's owner told her the secret but she didn't get it.  We told her to be careful and not get bit.

The surprise stop was the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  We had an hour here, just enough time to shop and get some ice cream.  Jennifer shopped while Gary and I shared some pineapple ice cream with pineapple topping.  I loved the fresh pineapple, but that was a bit much. 

Dole Plantation

The driver then took up back to the Pali Lookout, along the way we drove by Schofield Barracks where Gary was stationed back in the 70's.  We even drove by the town he lived in Waipahu.

Had a nice stop at Pali Lookout, spent about 20 minutes here.  Gary was taking a photo of Jennifer with the scenic background when some wind came up, blew her hair up just as he snapped the photo.  It is a funny photo.

Wind Blown at Pali Lookout

We got back to our hotel around 4:00 pm.  This was a very nice leisure tour.  We ate a late supper this night, mainly because none of us could agree on where to eat.  We finally settled on a little cafe called Rock Island.  It was a nostalgic place, settings were from the 50's and the shop had all kinds of nostalgic stuff for sale.  This is where I had the Primo Beer.  It is brewed in Hawaii, then was gone for about 20 years and just recently came back.  Gary remembered Primo and I liked it.

The cafe is in a place called Kings Corner and this is where the Kings Guard drill team performs, however we missed it but got the time and will be back tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Polynesian Culture Center

This tour didn't start until 10:00 am so we got to sleep in for a bit.  Gary and I did our usual coffee on the beach walk, we would go to Starbucks and share a cup of cinnamon dolce latte then go out on the the beach and take a short walk and just enjoy.  Quite alot of people exercising along the beach and we would watch the guy rake the sand.

The Culture Center is located on the north side of the island in a town called Laie, it is an hour bus ride and our guide gave us some of the history in the little towns that we passed through.  Didn't seem an hour ride he made it very enjoyable.  We also introduced ourselves to our bus neighbors mainly to see who was on our bus as when we leave the center there are going to be alot of buses and we wouldn't want to get on the wrong one.

The Culture Center is owned by the Mormon Church and there is a college right next door.  All the workers in the center are students.  What made this neat is that all the students have their tuition paid by the Mormon church, all that is required is the students work and then after completion of their education have to do a Mormon mission.  We told Jennifer to go to school here and become a Mormon for 4 years, that way we could come every year and visit.  She said no.

Our guide told us that for $25 more per ticket we would get him as our guide through the grounds, we were about the only ones on the bus that did not do this.  He gave us our tickets and showed us where we would be eating dinner then on we went.  We were given a map of the grounds.

The islands represented in the Center are Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Tonga.  Each has their own area in the compound and they give demonstrations of their culture.  We learned how to hula both Hawaiian and Tahitian style, played Maori games in New Zealand, learned how to climb a coconut tree, make fire and get coconut milk in Samoa, play drums and throw spears in Tonga, and play instruments in Fiji.  It was all very informative and not much different than the Native American culture here.

Learning the Tahitian style hula

Stick Game

Spear Throwing

Dinner was a buffet with carved meat.  It was all very delicious with a touch of island flair.  We were met at the door with a greeter to take our tickets and had to wait for about 15 minutes.  We visited a bit and they encouraged us to go visit the temple (we didn't do) then had a photo taken with a couple cast members.  After dinner we had time to browse through the gift shops before the show started.

The night show is pretty spectacular, however new rules absolutely no photography of any kind allowed.  The last time we could take photos but no flash.  Our seats were pretty good, except we got a side view of the stage.  The only parts of the show we couldn't see was when the actors climbed to the top of the set.

Got on our bus and waited, we were short one couple.  All of us were told what time to be on the bus.  The driver waited for them and we were the last bus to leave.  Jennifer was shocked that the driver just left them.  I reminded Jennifer that all of us were told what time to be here and everyone else followed directions.  The only thing we could think of was they left early or else got on the wrong bus.  We didn't see a couple standing on the sidewalk as we left.

Had a good time, but nothing really changed in the six years.  The demonstrations were the same as before.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stars & Stripes Tour

This tour took us to see the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Missouri and Punchbowl National Cemetary.  Jennifer wanted to see Pearl Harbor and Gary wanted to tour the USS Missouri again so this was the perfect tour.

We had to catch our tour buses at the Aloha Landing which was a 5 minute walk from our condo.  This tour we had to be ready at 6:00 am then wait for the Roberts Hawaii bus.  The Aloha Landing is a very busy place, there are four hotels in the area and this is a regular stop for all buses.  Good thing the drivers had our names, as there were many Roberts Hawaii buses coming and going.  We were the first ones on the bus.

On this tour a couple that sat across from us during our breakfast was on this tour.  They were very nice and from Australia.  He was very much interested in history and he was glad that I asked about this tour.  This one was not on the original list that was given to us.

The reason this one is so early is that at the USS Arizona Memorial it is first come first served and after 3000 visitors it is shut off.  Also because this is an active military installation security was tight.  We were told that no bags were allowed inside the facilities.  Jennifer and I were allowed to wear our passport wallets, as those are considered wallets.  I was surprised at how many women were very upset because they couldn't take their purses.  They could leave them on the locked bus or else store them in the lockers provided at a cost at the memorial.  I don't know about them but we were specifically told about this restriction and if you do any searches online this is also mentioned.

This place has changed quite alot in the six years.  First a new museum was built and it explains things before, during and after the attack.  The driver gave us our tickets for the shuttle to the Arizona and that gave up plenty of time to visit the museum and grounds.  We got to see a 20 minute video about the attack then we were taken out to the boat to take us to see the Arizona.  We were able to stay for about 15 minutes then it was time for our group to go back. 

We had about 15 minutes before meeting our bus driver to see the Missouri.  The last time we were here our tour bus took us to the Missouri, now there are shuttle buses that will take you back and forth, our driver was good about getting all of us on the shuttle.

Had good weather this time while visiting the Missouri, we were able to tour the outside.  Our guide was very informative, then we had plenty of time to wander on our own.  We made our way to the inside of the ship.  Good thing they had arrows pointing the way otherwise you could get lost very easily on this big ship. Then we had time to tour the bridge before we had to meet our group for the shuttle.

We just had time to make a quick potty break or grab a quick snack before getting on the shuttle to tour the Punchbowl National Cemetary.  The last time we took this tour, the driver just drove through the cemetary, this time we had a tour guide. 

First he took us to the overlook where we got to see a beautiful view of Honolulu, then we got to see the mosaic tile maps and he explained all of them.  There is a small chapel here which is very beautiful.  Gary wore is Viet Nam Veteran Hat so the guide was excited to show him the new Viet Nam Map that was just installed in November.  The maps here only explain about the Pacific Theater.

We got back to Waikiki around 4:30 pm, it was a very long day and alot of walking.  For supper we ate at a rotating restaurant called Top of Waikiki.  We were there for sunset which was very nice.  The only bad thing is that so many new hotels were built and block the ocean view so you only get a partial ocean view from the restaurant.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Diamond Head Climb

On Sunday Gary got very sick and we think that he got food poisoning from his dinner the night before.  We ate at Jimmy Buffet's, he had a burger while Jennifer and I had sandwiches.  He couldn't keep anything down, was very dizzy and had a pounding headache so he had to stay in the condo.

Jennifer and I went to the free breakfast, this was at the Holiday Inn Beachcomber which was the hotel that Gary and I stayed in when we went to Hawaii in 2007.  There were several people having this free breakfast, first we had our photo taken that we could purchase when we left.  We were seated and served scrambled eggs, sausage, a mini muffin and fresh pineapple.  Had cofee and delicious juice made out of guava, pineapple and oranges.  This was sponsored by the tour company that provided the airport shuttle.  We listend to a speech about the islands and different tours that were offered.  Gary had said that he didn't care left that up to us.

We signed up for the Stars & Stripes Tour which took us to the USS Arizona Memoria, the USS Missouri and Punchbowl National Cemetary.  Jennifer really wanted to see Pearl Harbor and Gary wanted to tour the USS Missouri again.  The second tour was to the Polynesian Culture Center.  They were really pushing for the most expensive tour, but we signed up for the general tour.  We got a meal with it and decent seating for the night show.  The last tour that we signed up for was the Grand Island Tour.  This one took us all around the island and made several stops at places.  One was the Byudo-In Temple which we really wanted to see.  We paid our fees and then walked back to our condo.

Gary was still pretty sick and he pretty much kicked us out of the condo, he didn't want us to get sick if he had the flu.  We went to the beach for a couple hours, first we bought a straw mat to sit on and just relaxed.  We didn't have any shade so only made it a couple hours as it got pretty warm.

We went back got changed and just walked around Waikiki and shopped.  For dinner we ate at a restuarant that is a beach BBQ.  You cook your own meat and help yourself to the salad bar.  It was very good, then we went shopping some more.

Monday Gary was feeling better, at least he wasn't vomiting.  He was weak and had a headache so just took it easy.  Jennifer and I went to Diamond Head, Gary didn't go and there was no way that he would have been able to accomplish the climb anyway.  We took the city bus to Diamond Head, the fare was $2.50 each.  I checked the web site and found what bus number we needed to go to Diamond Head, I should say I found the bus that made a stop at Diamond Head.  We waited for the bus and asked the driver is this took us to Diamond Head.  He stopped on the other side of Diamond Head not the crater, but told us what bus to take.  We had to take the one to the community college which is across the street from the crater.  We caught out bus, paid the fare and got a transfer that was good for 2.5 hours.  The driver told me where to catch the return bus and which ones that would take me back to Waikiki.

We hiked into the entrance, paid our $1 fee and up the crater we went.  It took us about 45 minutes to reach the top.  The trail is very uneven and many people that at places you were just in line.  Some places you had to let those coming down pass before you could move.  The climb really isn't that bad.  We climbed up all 175 steps.  Those are narrow and they really need an up and a down section.  The view from the top is spectacular especially when we saw the rainbow.  There was a new trail that wasn't there 6 years ago so we took it.  All that does is bypass the steps.  We didn't see this on our way up.  Besides the steps are the fun thing about Diamond Head.  We spent two hours at Diamond Head.

Made our way down and waiting for the bus.  We never did see the bus that the driver told me to get on, but one pulled up and said Waikiki beach & hotels so we hopped on.  Wasn't sure is our transfers would work, we had the fare anyway but I played dumb with the driver and she said we just made it.  Save us $5.  We got off near the International Market Place which I was familiar with.

While we were at Diamond Head, Gary checked out the beach.  At lunch at a Denny's then walked around Waikiki, decided to eat at Duke's which is very popular on Waikiki.  Gary went back to the condo to watch the Alabama-Notre Dame Game.  While he was watching football Jennifer and I decided to go to the Teddy Bear Museum that we saw the night before.  It was really cute.

The rest of the time was spent relaxing at the condo, we had a early morning for our Stars & Stripes Tour which was 6:00 am.  Found where we needed to get on the bus which was called Aloha Landing just a 5 minute walk from our hotel.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hawaii Vacation

This Hawaii vacation was our Christmas, we went in January after the holidays as prices were a bit cheaper.  Our travel agent booked us a two bedroom condo, which was cheaper than getting two hotel rooms.  It was very nice and we loved our week on condo living.

We left Billings bright and early on Jan 5, our flight was supposed to leave at 6:00 am.  We were booked on Alaska Airlines which Jennifer didn't like due to her problems on her Korea trip last spring.  I had signed up for alerts on our flight and did get one at 3:00 am stating that our flight was delayed out of Billings for 30 minutes.  No problem because we had a 90 minute layover in Seattle.  As it turned out, our flight was an hour late leaving Billings.  We did land in Seattle and had about 30 minutes to catch our connecting flight to Honolulu.  We arrived at the gate just as they started boarding the plane. As we got to the ticket agent, there was a problem with our boarding passes, we had to go to a customer service counter.  Turned out that Billings had removed us off this flight and changed us to a flight that wouldn't leave Seattle until 6:30 pm, which got us into Honolulu at midnight.  Fortunately the lady was able to get us seats on the plane but we weren't together, scattered all over the plane.  Made a very boring 5 1/2 hour flight to Honolulu but we got there.  Even the lady at the counter didn't understand why Billings did what they did.  We vowed that we would never fly Alaska Airlines again, but we should never say never.

As we got off the plane we were met at the gate by the shuttle service and we all received a lei and had a sign with our name on it.  We received a coupon for a free breakfast on Sunday morning through the company and we would get some deals on tours and other information about the islands. 

Got checked into the condo then we walked around Waikiki to get our bearings, we were tired after our stressful day so just relaxed a bit.  We ate a late supper then to bed early.

I will blog about all of our adventures later.  Sure did enjoy ourselves, didn't take long to get accustomed to the 80 degree weather and now we are trying to figure out how to go back again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Resolution for 2013

I always make resolutions for the new year and it is always the same, to lose weight.  This year I'm doing something different.  My resolution for 2013 is to save money.

I am going to save all the money that I would spend on the candy machine at the courthouse for the year.  Every work day I will buy a candy bar at .75 and when I figured out how much was going into the machine, I can use that money for a trip or something.

There are approximately 260 work days in a year and at .75 that will be a savings of $195.  I am actually going to save $4 per week, going to throw in the extra quarter at the end.  I actually started saving on the 31st, no sense to start saving in the middle of the week.

I just need to find a jar to put all the coins in, right now I'm using an old wallet but it won't hold all the coins in a couple weeks.  Just need a small jar. To get my candy fix I bought a bag of the bite sized snickers.

As of today I already saved $2.25.