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Aloha, Hawaii!

July 18, 2016

Well, despite being there for two full weeks, our trip to Kauai seemed to fly by, especially by the end of the trip.  We made it home safely to Alabama yesterday morning, and are settling back into our day-to-day life.  SIGH.

Post-vacation depression is a real thing, right?

It was a great trip.  Here are some final photos of how we wrapped the week up.

We took a hike with my parents one afternoon to Sleeping Giant– a tough hike that was all uphill for the first half.  Lila hiked the whole way up and down, and did awesome– I was impressed!

We also went out on a  boat tour, which was so much fun.  We saw dolphins and sea turtles, and stopped to snorkel.  If I had to choose between this and the helicopter tour, I’d definitely choose the helicopter.  BUT, the boat tour was great too, and the kids had fun and loved seeing the dolphins.

Beyond that…we just had fun!  We visited the pool a few more times, went to the beach, went out for a nice dinner at The Beach House (so good!), explored the town of Hanapepe…just had a great time!

I will admit, I am happy to be home– including our Seattle trip, we were gone for three full weeks.  We missed the dogs and Tenny! But, what a wonderful vacation this was– I’m so grateful that we had the chance to explore such a cool place and spend so much time with family.  Lila really misses her cousins from both sides of the family when we’re home in Alabama, so to be able to spend three full weeks all around family was a special treat, especially for her.  I’m not sure when we’ll get back to Hawaii (that trip back– yikes!), but I hope to, someday.  It is so beautiful.

And now…we only have three weeks until school starts again.  How is that possible?!? Eek!

Kauai from the Sky

July 12, 2016

Another “must do” item on our list for this vacation was a helicopter tour– we heard from several people that taking a helicopter tour is the best way to see parts of the island that you would never otherwise get to see.  We set up two tours with Jack Harter Helicopters– my parents took care of the grandkids while me, Ryan, and my sister and her husband went; then, we switched out and my parents went.

We had the option of flying in a helicopter with the doors on or off, and although it made *some* of us nervous, we opted for doors off.  I figure, if you’re going down, those doors aren’t going to make a different anyway, right?😉

After we got to the helicopter place, we had a quick safety briefing, then they carted us in a van to the launch pad, about 5 minutes away.  And then…it was up, up and away!

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Luckily, we made it out alive.  And, everyone was right– it was awesome.  It definitely gave you a huge appreciation for the island.  Plus, our helicopter pilot was a great tour guide– he pointed out various sites and details, while providing interesting commentary (but not talking the whole time).  Plus, he pointed out a bunch of celebrity’s houses– you know I liked that.

Again, a helicopter tour is probably not something that I would do on many vacations, but it was a great choice to do it here on Kauai. I would definitely recommend this as a must-do!

Holy Hike, Batman!

July 11, 2016
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Kauai is known for having beautiful hikes all over the island, and Ryan and I do love to hike, so we knew that we’d want to take advantage of that while we were here.  Some of them have been close to where we’re staying (on the South end), like the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail:

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But I read that a lot of the best hiking was on the North end of the island, at the Na’Pali Coast State Park.  We knew that these hikes would be too tough for the kiddos– they’re supposed to be really muddy, tough trails, with a lot of dangerous ledges and drop offs– not exactly a place you want to take a 3,4, and 6 year-old (plus a baby!).  We all really wanted to do the hikes, however– our helicopter pilot (more on that in another post) said that if there was one hike you did on Kauai, you needed to do the hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls– an eight mile hike.  The first two miles take you to a beach, then it’s another two to the waterfall.

We all kind of went back and forth on whether or not to try for the waterfall.  In the end, we decided that all of the adults would try to hike to the beach, and then whoever wanted to continue on to the falls could do so.  We found a highly recommended sitter service and left the kids at home to watch Aladdin– which was much preferred by them, haha.  And, we set off for the North shore!  After about an hour and a half of driving, we were ready to hike!

The hike was difficult from the get-go– lots of climbing up steep bluffs, which paid off with amazing views of the coast:

About one mile in, it got even tougher– very MUDDY.  My parents ended up turning around about 1.5 miles in, and I don’t blame them– it was a hike that you had to take very slowly, and the mud made it especially difficult.  I found myself slipping and sliding on the trail multiple times.

Finally, after two long miles, we made it to the final obstacle.  Before the beach, you have to cross a pretty big river– yikes! The current was strong, but it wasn’t that bad once you actually started crossing– it looked scarier than it actually was, but I was kind of freaked out about it!

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After crossing the river, we were rewarded with the beach– finally! It was a beautiful spot to eat our lunch:

 

The four of us (my sister and brother-in-law, plus me and Ryan) debated a bit on whether or not to continue on to the falls.  The guidebooks and trail signs really did say that it was a difficult trail, only meant for strong hikers.  Ryan and I hike quite a bit, but the trails we do are pretty easy.  We were also thinking about the time– it took us a full hour and half just to hike the two miles to the beach, and going on to the waterfall would mean another three hours altogether, at least.

But…after some back and forth, my sister said, “We are going to regret it if we don’t do this”– and we all knew she was right.  So…it was on to the falls!

The trail really was treacherous– muddy, muddy, muddy, with a lot of river and stream crossings, ledges to walk across, and boulders to crawl over.  It was probably the hardest hike I’ve done to date. We didn’t get a lot of pictures because we were too busy trying not to die, heh.

 

But, finally, we were rewarded with a sneak peek of the falls:

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…and we knew we were getting close!

Finally…we made it to Hanakapi’ ai Falls! And it was beautiful:

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We swam in the pool– it was FREEZING and the wind was blowing water all over our faces.  But again, it was worth it.

And then…after lots of pictures…it was time to turn around and begin the hike back.  Womp, womp.

This hike was amazing and definitely worth the effort.  It can be harder to do these types of things once you’re traveling with kids, but I’m so glad that we found a way to do this hike– it is one that I will remember forever.  And my legs will remember it for a long time too.  ;-)

 

Just Another Day in Paradise…

July 9, 2016

What else is there to say?

We’ve been having a blast, exploring beaches, hikes, canyons, and waterfalls.  On Thursday (I think?), we drove up a winding, winding road to Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii.”  I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but I was pretty impressed!

After viewing the canyon, we hiked around a bit with the kids…and rewarded ourselves with GIANT shave ices:

 

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Just a little sugar.

That night, we were beat from the day, so we just relaxed and ate dinner at the pool.  The kids soaked their weary bones in the hot tub:

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Hahaha.

Yesterday, we drove up to Wailua Falls:

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…which apparently you used to be able to hike down to, but now can only view from above.  Womp, womp.  Oh well– they were still beautiful!

Afterwards, we headed to Lydgate State Park, which was a beautiful state park with a really cool playground that Charlie loved swinging at, plus a GREAT children’s beach.

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I strapped Charlie in the Ergo so that he could nap, and we strolled the “big” beach too:

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So pretty!

Finally, a few days back, we explored a local farmers market, and indulged in some great Hawaiian treats:

We are having so much fun.  Hawaii has been a great choice for kids AND adults– there is so much to do, and we have another week but I’m already feeling the stress of running out of time! Gah!

We’re checking a big “must do” off our list this morning though– helicopter ride around the island!! Eek!

Pray I make it back alive, haha.

Kauai Not?

July 6, 2016

We’ll see how many puns I can get out of this trip.  Maybe every single post title?

Yesterday, we explored a little bit more of the island.  We drove up to Kukuiolono Park, which is a public park and golf course.  It was small, but really cool– it has a Japanese garden and some walking paths that led up to a beautiful view:

I don’t think the kids appreciated the view as much as we did.  ;-)

From there, we drove to glass beach– it’s in a more industrial part of the island, and the beach is made entirely of sea glass.  I love beach-combing, so this was a really fun activity. I could have stayed at this beach for HOURS.

After lunch and a rest, Lila and I joined my parents for a short little hike:

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Short hike, but a big view!:-)

And finally…dinner was burgers out:

 

…complete with family photos.  :-)

Not sure what today holds, but the sun is out so I’m heading out for a run! xx

Goodbye Seattle; Aloha, Hawaii!

July 5, 2016

I’m a little behind with this post– we left Seattle on Saturday and flew out to Hawaii.  Our Seattle trip was so much fun– we visited a few beaches, caught up with old friends, and spent tons of time with family.  We also visited a few family-friendly sites that Ryan and I had never taken Lila to– the Everett Children’s Museum, and the Seattle Aquarium.  It was a packed week!

Then, we flew from chilly Seattle to…balmy Hawaii:

I was a little nervous about this flight– they couldn’t sit us all together, so Ryan and Lila sat together and I stayed with Charlie.  It was 5.5 hours…that’s a long time to entertain a baby on a flight! Luckily, he did great– slept a lot, ate a lot, and stayed generally happy.  Before I knew it, we were landing in Kauai, ready for vacation #2!

We are having a blast here– it is SO beautiful.  I’ve been to Hawaii once before, on a high school biology trip– but, that was a long time ago and we were on a different island.  Kauai is beautiful…and wonderfully laid back.  It seems like a great place to take kids– just beaches and beautiful hikes for days.

Hope you had a great fourth! Aloha!:-)

 

Summer Travels…

June 28, 2016

Hi friends! We are in full summer mode, which for us always means…travel!  We’re spending this week in Seattle, and from there will go to Hawaii for two weeks.  Our trips that we take during the summer are some of my best memories and one of the things I love most about having such a long break in the summer.  People always ask if we ever think about doing summer teaching, but the truth is, I love taking this time to relax and take some time to ourselves without the stress of teaching.

When it was just the two of us, we would take longer, more complicated trips– Croatia…Italy…France.  I loved those trips (and I miss those days, haha), but we’ve still been able to travel a lot, even now that our family has expanded to four.  Traveling with kids is, of course, different.  This is our first “real” trip with Charlie, so I was a little nervous about the long flights– getting to Seattle involved a 1.5 hour flight, followed by a 4 hour flight.  Luckily, both kids did AWESOME:

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…and before we knew it, we were pulling into SEATAC!

We’ve rented a house in the Green Lake area for this trip, and we are loving it.  We’re just a few blocks from the lake, so Lila has already enjoyed the little beach/swimming area.  The neighborhood is really cute and it’s fun to be close to everything Seattle has to offer.  Yesterday, we all woke up at 5 am (ugh…thanks, time change), which meant that we were out the door by 7, haha.  We decided to explore Discovery Park– we hiked for about 40 minutes down to the beach and then hung out there for a while before heading back.  The weather was so clear and beautiful– perfect for lots of pictures (warning: extreme photo dump ahead…)!

What a beautiful place!

After our hike, we headed out to Ryan’s parents’ house for lunch, and then invited his family back to our rental house for a pizza dinner.

Today, we’re off to the zoo with friends, and then meeting up with one of my best friends for dinner tonight.  Loving this cool weather– although everyone here is complaining about how hot it is, heh.

Happy summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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