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Old 04-29-2013, 09:52 AM   #1
MissMet
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Aulani, Waikiki & NCL Cruise: A 15 Day, 1st Anniversary Extravaganza!

We're back again for our latest adventure. This time in just 4 short days we're headed to Hawaii! We will be celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary at Aulani for 5 nights, followed by a 3 night stay in Waikiki and then finishing up the trip on the NCL Pride of America for a week to visit the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. (May 3-19)

If you'd like to read more about us, you can find that info here. If clicking that link is just too much for yah...the short version: We're Matt (33) & Lisa (27), DVC members from NY. I'm the Disney freak of the two, Matt has started to get the Disney fever since meeting me. We are newlyweds that overcame the impossible... I'm a Met Fan from NY, he's a Yankee Fan from Jersey (gross!). Proof that love conquers all.



I've been blogging my trips since 2010 and they're always live. I also blog the "pre-trip" planning portion which you can find on the blog. www.serenitynowtravelblog.com

I'm not going to go crazy with the pre-trip stuff here. You are more than welcome to head over to the blog and read about all the crazy booking, canceling, rebooking, test runs, etc... that went on over the past few months. This trip was probably the most planned trip I have done since the 23 Day DCL Transatlantic, WDW, F&WF Extravaganza back in 2010. That was a doozy & this one seems to be on par.

This is my second visit to Hawaii (first to Aulani) and Matt has never been. We're trying to get all our big vacations in before we have kids and life ends. Which, by the way...does anyone ever feel like it's a good time to start having kids?! Today, I could wait 10 years before having kids. Ask me tomorrow...I want kids NOW. I'm all over the place. Matt probably secretly thinks I'm bipolar. I digress.

Highlights of our trip will include:

nonstop flight via Hawaiian Airlines (11 hours!!!)
Aulani ocean view studio
Diamond Head Hike
Farmer's Market
Shrimp Trucks
Sightseeing major attractions
Luau
Cage Diving with Sharks (Yes, you read that right.)
Spa Day
Surf Lessons
Snorkeling (lots of snorkeling!)
Volcanoes
Waterfalls
2 hotels
1 cruise ship
4 rental cars
and LOTS OF FOOD!!

We're gonna need a vacation from this vacation!

For now, it's off to do some laundry & maybe start packing.


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Old 04-29-2013, 10:10 AM   #2
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Sounds fantastic! I will check out your blog to see all that planning! Can you even believe that work denies us access to blogs?

About kids... here are my 2 cents. Don't let them end your love and need for travel. Instead, tweak your vacation plans so they are more kid friendly and show them the world! Everyone told my husband and i that our pre-kids traveling would stop once the kids arrived. we have proven them wrong! Our kids are 7 and 4 and they have been to more US national parks, Disney World, Caribbean Islands and cruises than any others i know! Next year we are taking them to Italy and on the Meditteranean cruise. And more importantly, they enjoy the trips and we love making memories with our kids!
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:22 AM   #3
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Old 04-29-2013, 11:35 AM   #4
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMet View Post
We're back again for our latest adventure. This time in just 4 short days we're headed to Hawaii! We will be celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary at Aulani for 5 nights, followed by a 3 night stay in Waikiki and then finishing up the trip on the NCL Pride of America for a week to visit the rest of the Hawaiian Islands. (May 3-19)
Congrats on your anniversary! I'm planning a long trip to Hawaii in late June with my DW and 3 kids and we're seeing 4 different islands, so if you don't mind I'd love to tag along!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMet View Post
We are newlyweds that overcame the impossible... I'm a Met Fan from NY, he's a Yankee Fan from Jersey (gross!). Proof that love conquers all.
Oh boy. We're all Philadelphia sports fans. Well, we'll do our best to overlook this.

Anyway, we'll be trying to handle the jet lag from the East Coast as well. Not looking forward to that.

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We're trying to get all our big vacations in before we have kids and life ends.
Our youngest is 7, so you won't have to wait too long before you can do big trips again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMet View Post
Which, by the way...does anyone ever feel like it's a good time to start having kids?! Today, I could wait 10 years before having kids. Ask me tomorrow...I want kids NOW. I'm all over the place.
The pastor of my church had good advice for me once. If you want to wait until you're "ready" to have kids, or wait till you can afford them...you'll never have kids.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:40 AM   #6
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Last day before paradise...

It's here. We are at the final day before our Hawaiian Vacation! I had a pretty busy day, for Matt is was like any other work day. Matt headed to work and I headed to my nail and hair appointment, of course. That went pretty eventful, although I was almost charged with assault at the nail salon. I am very ticklish so pedicures are not a relaxing experience for me, to say the least.*After nearly kicking the pedicurist in the face while giggling like a school girl, I got the heck out of there and headed to my hair salon! Torture, I tell you. Pedicures are torture. I'm just so ticklish!

After my haircut, were I was successful at not involuntarily kicking anyone in the face, I headed home to watch Austin, my 16 month old nephew- my mom had watched him for me so I could make my appointments. I finished up some last minute packing while Austin chased Rocky, our 4.5 lb Yorkie, around with a wrapping paper tube. Once Uncle Matt got home he took the children, Bania our 55 lbs Olde English Bulldogge PUPPY, Austin & himself of course, outside to play so I could finish up cleaning up the house and have a moment of sanity.

My mom stopped by to say goodbye since she's is not a morning person, to say the least, so she would not be accompanying my dad on the drive to the airport in the morning. Shanna, my sister-in-law, showed up to pick up Austin so we said our goodbyes * *and then we jumped in the car. Matt & I had the brilliant idea to start off our vacation immediately. We were headed to the Palisades Mall to have dinner with a great friend and then see the first showing of Iron Man 3 on Imax 3D. It was a great memory but my God did we feel it getting up this morning with less than 4 hours sleep. If only we had an 11 hour flight to recover on. Oh, wait. Dinner was great and the movie was awesome. The funniest of the three, which I loved, because how can you not love Robert Downey Jr.'s cutting sense of humor??? It was crazy though, because people who already had their tickets were still lining up over 2 hours before the movie. So I rushed thru dinner and left the boys hanging out to go save a spot in line. It was worth it, because there was no way I wanted to end up sitting across the theater from Matt. Mainly because I have a sever allergy to people. "Don't talk to strangers" I have taken to an extreme. I think maybe it's a New York thing, because whenever we leave NY I'm always amazed about how many random strangers talk to me. Haha. Anyway. These people in the theater were probably proud members of the Tony Stark Fan Club. They were DRESSED UP in LIGHT UP, Iron Man COSTUMES. Yeah, thoooose kind of people. The last thing I wanted was to be wedged between to Iron Man crazies. Instead, thanks to my standing in line abilities, I was sitting between my two buds & Mr. Social Butterfly, Chatty Matty made friends with nearly our entire row while we sat in the theater for the 75 minutes before the movie started- they had open the doors that early to help with the line that was leaving the stanchions and starting to block the mall's walkway. While sitting in our row I realized again about how Matt has got to be the friendliest, extrovert I've ever met. He's such a nice, talkative guy. We are complete opposites. With strangers, I am the shiest introvert you'll ever meet. Opposites attract. Probably a good thing, because I can't imagine if we both were like me. Ha!




After our eventful night we headed home, but not before Matt bought me a Coke Zero after I had just given him an entire speech about how I did not want a Coke Zero, but rather a water instead. It was very funny. You had to be there. Once home, I had forgotten our sheets in the dryer so I made the bed while Matt let Bania out & ran the dishwasher. We finally made it to bed & no, we were not too excited to sleep. We were exhausted!
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:01 AM   #7
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:46 AM   #8
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:08 AM   #9
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Have a great time! Can't wait to see your room view and read your report. We will be at Aulani a fews days after you. Aloha! Enjoy your vacation!
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:27 AM   #10
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I'm looking forward to reading your trip report. Back in September, we sailed on NCL's Pride of America and then spent a week at Aulani. It was a great vacation and I think Aulani is the best of the DVC resorts.

If you have a chance to stop by a Crazy Shirt shop while in the islands, do it. Crazy Shirt has a line of really nice Disney t-shirts. My favorite is the one of Steamboat Willie sailing pass Diamond Head. The Crazy Shirt shops are in all the major tourist spots, so they are not that hard to find.

Have a great time!
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizney73 View Post
Sounds fantastic! I will check out your blog to see all that planning! Can you even believe that work denies us access to blogs?

About kids... here are my 2 cents. Don't let them end your love and need for travel. Instead, tweak your vacation plans so they are more kid friendly and show them the world! Everyone told my husband and i that our pre-kids traveling would stop once the kids arrived. we have proven them wrong! Our kids are 7 and 4 and they have been to more US national parks, Disney World, Caribbean Islands and cruises than any others i know! Next year we are taking them to Italy and on the Meditteranean cruise. And more importantly, they enjoy the trips and we love making memories with our kids!
Thanks for the advise! It helps.

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I love live reports, I'm in too.
Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Oblivious View Post
Congrats on your anniversary! I'm planning a long trip to Hawaii in late June with my DW and 3 kids and we're seeing 4 different islands, so if you don't mind I'd love to tag along!



Oh boy. We're all Philadelphia sports fans. Well, we'll do our best to overlook this.

Anyway, we'll be trying to handle the jet lag from the East Coast as well. Not looking forward to that.



Our youngest is 7, so you won't have to wait too long before you can do big trips again!



The pastor of my church had good advice for me once. If you want to wait until you're "ready" to have kids, or wait till you can afford them...you'll never have kids.
Oh, gosh. Philly?! Booo! Hiss!!! The hardest moment in my life was trying to figure out how to answer people on who I was rooting for in the Yanks/Phillies WS. I came up with, "I'm rooting for the Phillies to loose." I couldn't get myself to say anything nice for the Yankees even if the Phillies were involved. Worst. Moment. Of. My. Life.

And thank you for the advise on kiddos! Really, though.

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subbing! Have fun!!
Thanks!

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Originally Posted by disney4metoo View Post
Have a great time! Can't wait to see your room view and read your report. We will be at Aulani a fews days after you. Aloha! Enjoy your vacation!
Nice! Have a safe flight!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wdrl View Post
I'm looking forward to reading your trip report. Back in September, we sailed on NCL's Pride of America and then spent a week at Aulani. It was a great vacation and I think Aulani is the best of the DVC resorts.

If you have a chance to stop by a Crazy Shirt shop while in the islands, do it. Crazy Shirt has a line of really nice Disney t-shirts. My favorite is the one of Steamboat Willie sailing pass Diamond Head. The Crazy Shirt shops are in all the major tourist spots, so they are not that hard to find.

Have a great time!
Awesome! Thanks for the info! I had heard about them, but didn't realize they had Disney shirts. We'll definitely check them out. I sailed the POA back in 2008 with my parents, & we just loved it. So it was a no brainer for my hubby & I to repeat it once we heard about Aulani too!
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:10 PM   #12
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So, I presume your Aulani villa is overlooking the Waikolohe Valley? We loved waking up every morning and hearing the morning chant. Occasionally, I'll read posts from Aulani guests who "complain" about the noise from the pools or from the entertainers at the 'Olelo Room. But for me its all part of the sights and sounds of Aulani.

If you get a chance, stop by the DVC Preview Center and sign up for a tour of the Grand Villa. If I ever win the Powerball lottery, I'd love to stay in an Aulani Grand Villa for a few days.

I'm curious about the status of the construction projects. If DVC is still using Grand Villa #1001 for its tours, then you should have a great view of new kids' splash zone and the new infinity pool that is under construction.

Hope you have having a great time in paradise!
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:42 AM   #13
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Day 1- Departure Day


* Pictures are on the blog www.serenitynowtravelblog.com

I woke up this morning 10 minutes before my alarm, 4:50am. I actually didn't feel too bad for how little sleep I was on. I got ready and finished up some odds and ends in the hour before my dad arrived. Matt got up a little after me and took care of Bania. We left the house on time and treated ourselves to a bacon, egg and cheese on a hard roll and I also made the wise choice to get an additional item to snack on while on our flight, a buttered hard roll. I tried to get Matt to bring some food to snack on, but he said he was fine. Just like he said he didn't need anything to drink for the ride and we were not even off our street when h realized that it would have been the wise choice to listen to his wife and bring a drink to wash down his breakfast. Anyway.

The drive to the airport went well, no traffic issues or anything like that. Our flight wasn't until 10am, but you can't take any chances with the morning rush hour possibilities. Once at the airport, JFK, we had no line at the Hawaiian Airlines desk. (*cough*Matt's bag was heavier than mine*cough*) The security line was a little long but it moved pretty quick. After security we made our way to our gate to find a seat, but not before stopping at the newsstand to buy Matt a small deodorant for on the plane because, "he's a man!" whatever that means. They boarded the plane from the back to the front, we of course were in the front so I was a little worried about overhead storage space, but once on board we didn't have any issue. We were in a row of two seats to ourselves and made ourselves at home pretty quick. Our plane took off at 10:25am so only 25 minutes late. I really like Hawaiian Airlines. They had a pillow and blanket on each chair waiting for us, no charge. Their entertainment options were really good, although the "unlimited package" isn't very informative. Matt & I have been watching 24 on Netflix from the beginning since Matt never got into the show and we've also been watching Arrested Development, I had never gotten into that one and Matt really enjoys it. Well, on the unlimited package it showed 24 and Arrested Development, but it wouldn't tell you how many episodes or which season. We asked the flight attendant and she had no idea, so we bought the unlimited TV & Movies Package only to find out the it was only 3 random episodes each. It wasn't a total waste since they did have two movies on that package that we were interested in. Where we really enjoyed ourselves was the "On Demand" new release movies. I finally saw the final Twilight movie (don't judge me! I can feel your judgement) and Matt finally saw some weird sic-fi movies that he's been dying to see, Life of Pi and something Atlas?. I don't even know. We also played some games that came with the unlimited package, Battleship & trivia that made me feel like a complete moron. Thank you Hawaiian Airlines.

We each only slept at the most an hour while on the plane, bringing our sleep totals to right around 5 hours each. Hawaiian Airlines offers complementary meals and I was impressed, for the most part. They served us a drink and trail mix once we were in the air, a little while later they served us lunch, then our movies were suddenly interrupted with the cutest video of dancing, singing concession stand items, just like you see at the old drive-ins, announcing that the "snack bar" in the galley was open. The snack bar remained "open" the rest of the flight, which had complementary drinks and snacks as well as the fancy snacks & drinks for purchase. A bit later they offered us a fruit and cheese plate which really hit the spot. There was complementary food & drinks and then premium snacks, meals and drinks for a charge. The announced they were taking lunch orders and of course told us about their $14 upgraded lunch but we thought their regular meal would be fine. Whoever thought that serving people flying out of NY "pasta with red sauce', that's what they were calling it, was a good idea obviously was NOT from the NY area. Ugh. I immediately wished I had upgraded my meal when they announced the pasta had "marinara sauce", before even laying eyes on it. I have the best Italian mama on the planet, who cooks like no other. So I am very picky when it comes to "Italian". Other than that monstrosity I was really impressed with their quality. They even served complementary red and white wine with our Chef Boyardi. Everything they served was an American product and good quality. Lots of Hawaiian items too. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, shortbread cookies, Kona coffee & all the POG juice you could want. (Passion fruit, orange & guava juice blend. Hear that? That's angeles singing as I type, "POG". I feel like the flight went pretty quick. The last 2.5 hours was the doozy. That was the longest part of the flight. Oh, and remember Matt not needing any snacks on the plane. Ha! Guess who was upset he didn't listen and bring some snacks on board.

The flight was really smooth and we actually landed 40 minutes early. I had surprised Matt with a lei greeting, so our first sight off the plane was a sign with our name & two beautiful leis. The girl that greeted us took us thru a short cut to baggage claim and then once we picked up our luggage she escorted us to our rental car shuttle. She was very sweet and the shuttle driver was also extremely friendly. There was quite a crowd at Enterprise but it went quick and before we knew it we were in our convertible (surprised Matt with that one) headed for our hotel with a malfunctioning GPS and no idea where we were going.

I was panicked. I could not get the thing to work at all. Add on top of it that I'm exhausted and have put all kinds of pressure on myself to make this trip amazing and my biggest tool in our vacation, our gps, is not working. I fidgeted with it most of the way while googling directions & sharing them with Matt while trying to not have an over-tired meltdown. Matt of course was obnoxiously happy , which normally I'd welcome with open arms, but while I was panicking was not the time to be singing, "Celebrate Jesus, Celebrate" sirca 1995 at the top of your lungs in a convertible while your wife is rapidly self-distructing. He was trying to help and make me have fun, but I was way too tired and way to tightly wound to enjoy. Hello, OCD, perfectionist, worrying, type A, Lisa. I was a mess. I never got the thing to work, but we ended up getting to our resort without any issue, well except my issues, but that was gonna take some serious sleep & one talented physiologist.

So we get to the resort, one near meltdown has now been slightly averted. It was close. We pull in and the resort, Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa, is just breathtaking. The valet area, however, is a zoo. Valets running everywhere, packed with cars, etc. The valet couldn't even hold a conversation with us without yelling at incoming vehicles every few seconds. It was not the relaxing Hawaiian resort I had pictured. No biggie though. So we leave our car with the valet and the coolest bellman comes for our luggage and he was a Yankee fan, but I loved him and will be filling out a comment card in his honor. He then escorts us to a Cast Member who welcomes us by name with a flower lei for me and a nut lei for Matt. What should have happened next, was the lei wielding woman should have handed us our welcome packet and room keys, given us a tour of the lobby and then sent us on our way since I had done online check-in. That did not happen. She brought us to the even more chaotic front desk to wait online to check-in. I mentioned to her that I had checked in online days ago, but it didn't seem to move her. So we finally get up to the deck and the guys starts the entire check-in process. I explained to him that I had already done all of this online, but he couldn't find any record of that, even though I had the confirmation email. Okay, fine. Not a terrible thing. So we go thru with the normal check-in process and then we head for our room, an ocean view, studio. We get up to the 10th floor and before walking in, I already am disappointed. (that's putting it lightly, sleep deprived, table for one) I had called and requested weeks ago an ocean view room on the pool. The ocean view I paid for, the request was to be on the pool as well. I have never been to a Disney Resort and not gotten my requests. They've kinda spoiled me. Our door was on the wrong side. So we open the door and find a small studio and I head straight for the balcony, which is also very tiny. What do I see? A parking lot! Our view looking straight ahead was a parking lot & the neighboring resorts and if I turned my head to the right & leaned forward I could see the ocean. Enter the waterworks. That was it. That was all my sleep deprived, perfectionist self could handle. Matt was sweet and tried to convince me that the view was fine, but he even admitted later how crappy it was. I was just going to suck it up, but then decided that I felt it was worth a shot to go down and talk to the front desk. You know, be one of thoooose people. Only problem was, I was struggling not to cry just standing there let alone any time I tried to start talking about it. I sounded like a six year old girl who just had her Barbie stolen. I juts kept telling Matt, "I know I'm overemotional about this. I'm just tired." I could not keep it together and really didn't want to cry over my room to a cast member at the front desk. So I went down & asked if there was any room with a better view. I told him how I had called months ago & put in a request to be on the pool, etc. He didn't bat an eye and in less than 2 minutes I had the room I had requested from the beginning. It was pretty clear that my entire reservation somehow got overlooked. Not the way you want to start your vacation, but it all worked out.

Once we were in our new room, we called for our luggage, took some pictures of the room, then headed down to the buffet here at the resort. By the end of our meal we were pretty zombified, but wanted to walk around at least a little bit to see the resort. We made it one lap around the pool and that was it. We headed to the room for showers and bed...well, for Matt. He's snoring away as I type this.


* Pictures are on the blog www.serenitynowtravelblog.com

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Old 05-05-2013, 12:25 PM   #14
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* Pictures are on the blog www.serenitynowtravelblog.com

They boarded the plane from the back to the front, we of course were in the front so I was a little worried about overhead storage space, but once on board we didn't have any issue. We were in a row of two seats to ourselves and made ourselves at home pretty quick. Our plane took off at 10:25am so only 25 minutes late. I really like Hawaiian Airlines. They had a pillow and blanket on each chair waiting for us, no charge. Hawaiian Airlines offers complementary meals and I was impressed, for the most part. They served us a drink and trail mix once we were in the air, a little while later they served us lunch, then our movies were suddenly interrupted with the cutest video of dancing, singing concession stand items, just like you see at the old drive-ins, announcing that the "snack bar" in the galley was open. The snack bar remained "open" the rest of the flight, which had complementary drinks and snacks as well as the fancy snacks & drinks for purchase. A bit later they offered us a fruit and cheese plate which really hit the spot. There was complementary food & drinks and then premium snacks, meals and drinks for a charge. They even served complementary red and white wine with our Chef Boyardi. Everything they served was an American product and good quality. Lots of Hawaiian items too. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, shortbread cookies, Kona coffee & all the POG juice you could want. (Passion fruit, orange & guava juice blend. Hear that? That's angeles singing as I type, "POG". I feel like the flight went pretty quick. The last 2.5 hours was the doozy. That was the longest part of the flight. Oh, and remember Matt not needing any snacks on the plane. Ha! Guess who was upset he didn't listen and bring some snacks on board.


Did you fly "first class"? Being in a row with 2 seats sounds pretty good---can not stand the 3 seat & 3 seat configuration on so many planes. Does Hawaiian Airlines charge an additional fee for these seats?

Planning a trip to Aulani in October and need to purchase our flights soon. So many options!! I really like the idea of not having to change planes more than once---no non-stops from our home airport, but could travel with only one change. Can't decide how to break up the trip. DH and myself with
2 adult children/spouse and granddaughter (3 yrs old) planning to make the trip. We only have experience with "short" flights and am not sure how a looooong 10-11 hour flight would be.

Looking forward to the rest of your trip report. Sounds like you are having a great time.
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Old 05-06-2013, 09:33 PM   #15
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Day 3- Sharks in the water.

Aloha. We're back after a Murphy's Law kinda day. We're still in Hawaii, so we can't complain too much, but this day has had some major ups and some major downs. It started last night with a phone call from our Shark Tour operator. We've planned to go cage diving with sharks for quite a while now. Believe it or not, it was this scaredy cat's idea and Matt was the one a little nervous- about the sharks that is. I was very nervous about getting seasick and the temperature of the water, since I am quite the baby with water temps. All the reviews I had read talked about how rough the water was and that at least one person on each outing throws up. I'm usually okay with seasickness, but not great. I really didn't want to be the one hurling over the rail, so I followed everyone's advise: go out on the earliest charter possible and ask to be the first in the cage. So I booked the 7am charter and was planning to request first as soon as we got there. Well, last night I started getting really nervous. I've always had anxiety issues and they use to be A LOT worse- like not being able to ride in a vehicle worse. So at about 4pm yesterday my butterflies started and a more somber mood came over me. At about 5pm, while we were at dinner, I missed a call from the captain. I noticed it so I headed outside and called him back. They were having boat issues so they were pushing us back an hour. Great. I know it's only an hour, but that was not "the early charter" anymore so my nerves were really going. I freaked out for a bit then pushed it out of my mind the best I could after a sweet pep talk from Matt.

This morning I woke up at 3:30am. A step in the right direction, I guess. One hour later than yesterday. I worked on my blog, then got myself ready to go up to the North Shore for a nice swim with sharks. No big deal. Matt got up and left me to me nerves- it's the best thing to do. Don't try to "calm me", that won't work, just pretend I'm not in the room. Really. So we quietly got ready in a very somber mood. Ha! The captain had told us to give ourselves an hour to get there- so we left at 6:30am. After taking our first step in the lobby my heart sank a bit more. It had obviously just poured. I tried not to panic and figured that it's probably not even raining where we were going. Not so much. We drove the 40 minute ride to the North Shore in on and off pouring rain with ominous black clouds surrounding us. Ugh. It really felt as though we were headed to our very own funeral. I knew that if it was bad weather the water would be even more rough. I had realized that it was around 1pm at home & it was Sunday, so I knew my family was having Sunday dinner together and I need to say my last words, so I called them on the last bit of the drive. I joked with them about how ridiculous my anxiety issues are in that, a year ago today I was headed for my wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and today I was headed to swim with sharks and I was actually more nervous headed to my wedding rehearsal than to swim with giant monsters that want to eat me! Not. Normal.

Once we arrived we were greeted by the Captain and Matt's first words to the man was, "Since we're first here can we be first in the water?". God, I love that man... and the captain too because he said, "yes". The weather had also cleared over the water. A bit of clouds, but no rain. So we got ourselves on the boat and we were told another bit of good news, normally there's 19 people on the trip, this trip only 10. Less people, less time on that rough water. Score! So after waiting what felt like an hour for the last guy who was late, we were finally on our way. We found out that we were only headed 3 miles out. Great news. We also got to see a whale far in the distance- well, we saw the water from his blow hole.

First shark sighting.
The water roughness at first didn't seem too bad and really I was feeling pretty good. Next thing I know we're headed to get into the cage. They told us the most dangerous part is getting everyone in and out of the water, they gave us instruction on how to get in and then gave us our snorkels. Matt & I were first with three other young guys. I was last into the cage so I could watch everyone else get in. Finally, it was my turn. I took my first step and was pleasantly surprised at the water temperature. It wasn't as terrible as I feared. Once in the water, they move the boat away from the cage, so you're really floating out in the sea totally surrounded by sharks. I know it's hard to believe but it really didn't feel scary to me at all. I know it should have, but I wasn't scared. There were about 8-10 sharks ranging in size from 5-8 feet long. We were in 450 feet water, surrounded. The sharks just circled us and even swam right below us, but very peacefully. They were within 1-2 feet from us most of the time. At one point one swam right at me, then turning at the last minute and swam by almost touching the cage bars that I was holding. At that moment I got more, not nervous, I'd say "respectful" of what I was doing and backed away from the cage for a bit. Then, I was right back, it was too cool. We were in the water probably 30 minutes and it was awesome. I was so glad I had done it and I rather be in that cage than back on that rocking boat. Once it was time to get back on the boat, they brought the boat back up alongside the cage and secured the cage to the side of the boat so that it would be a little more stable. I was the first out, since I was closest to the ladder. Awesome. Climb up a ladder in your swim suit in front of a bunch of guys. I'll bet none were looking since Matt was right behind me though.

(these photos are from Matt's camera, but he mainly took video once we're home I can upload mine as well.)

Once on the boat it was cold and rocking! I got my towel and then immediately called my mom to let her know I was still alive. Once I got off the phone and was no longer distracted and no longer on an adrenaline rush, I was feeling a little queazy. So I sat huddled up in my towel, clenched jaw, waiting for the next, and only other group, to have their turn. Luckily, for us, they didn't purchase the video so they weren't in the water near as long as we were, so the agony wasn't too prolonged. The ride back I was feeling it, but fighting thru. We made it back to shore by 9:30am, so it wasn't long at all. Perfect amount of time, because I think any longer and I would have been really sick. Out of our group, no one got sick, although there were two girls that had to lay down the whole way there and back because they were really feeling it.

Once on shore I slowly started to feel better. Matt was feeling great and was hungry so he made a stop at McDonalds for some apple pies- the real ones! Hawaii is the only US state that still deep-fries their apple pies. Other countries also still deep-fry them because they understand that fast food is not supposed to be healthy. Anyway. I was still too queasy to have anything deep-fried but I was getting better by the minute.

The rain started up again on our drive back home. We were supposed to be going on a nice scenic railroad ride thru the Ko Olina resort area, but so far that was not looking promising, but it was still early. So we headed back but first stopping at the Leonard's truck that is close to our resort. We were finally going to try "malasadas"- a Portuguese donut filled with amazingness. We ordered six, 4 custard, 1 chocolate and 1 coconut. I thought they were good, but a little over-hyped, but Matt loved them! They messed up our order and gave us 4 plain, so after going back the let us keep the original 4 and then gave us an additional 4 with custard. Score. We ate them in the parking lot, which is shared with a Kmart and many other stores.

We had forgotten to pack Matt's vitamins for his knee and he was having some discomfort so we had been meaning to stop and get them, so it was perfect to be sitting in a Kmart parking lot. As Matt was getting out of the car his knee flared up, I guess that's how to put it. He has had a problem with this knee for a long time and has already had two surgeries. A few months ago we think he aggravated it and so he's had a bit of discomfort on and off for a while. Now it PAIN. We think the Diamond Head hike took it to the next level. He had been okay after Diamond Head and he didn't have any trouble at the later hike by the waterfall, but this afternoon something definitely changed. It was getting worse and worse as he walked so we headed back to our resort.

At the resort, we started calling all the local pharmacies looking for crutches. We must have called 12 stores and they either were closed because it was Sunday, sold out of the proper height or didn't sell them. We soon realized that we were going to have to wait until tomorrow when everything was open. So Matt sat on the balcony and iced his knee. It was still raining and the weather report wasn't looking promising. I decided I need some lunch since so far all we've eaten was donuts. Matt didn't want anything, so I headed down. One complaint about Aulani is the walkway to the "fast food" restaurant is not covered. I was going to have to walk in the rain to get my food & then I didn't want to leave Matt long so I was going to carry it back thru the rain to get back to my room. The parking garage is also a walkway outside, uncovered. Bad planning, although supposedly Hawaii only has "passing rain storms". Not so much. So I headed down, but once down there I figured I'd give the front desk a shot and see if they had any ideas about our crutches fiasco.

Tonight is our luau at Paradise Cove and I knew that he was going to need something and a wheelchair was out since the luau is on the beach. I had the nicest cast member, Paul, help me. He spent 40 minutes with me calling every store on the island he could think of. He even talked to another cast member about it who was going to go home and get us his set, since he was the same height, but he had no idea where they were and if he still had them. I was blown away by the effort he put. If it wasn't Sunday, they would have had their contact bring us crutches immediately with free delivery. Ugh. So after 40 minutes of phone calls he found a store that had one set left and would not hold them for us. He gave me the address and told me it was about 20 minutes away. Great. No food stop for Lisa. I nearly ran back up to the room, got gimpy and then headed for the car. Crap. I have to drive. I wasn't thrilled with this plan since, as you're seeing, I have anxiety issues and driving in an unknown area in a new car is a big trigger for me. So I gave Matt the rules, "Speak when spoken to" and "Don't give me advise about driving, it'll only make it worse.". In my head I gave myself a little pep talk and then off we went.

The drive wasn't too bad. We were mostly on the highway we've gotten familiar with. We got there in about 20 minutes and the place was crazy. We thought it was best to send Matt in since parking was going be an issue. I circled until I finally found a spot and waited for his call. 15 minutes pass and nothing...this can't be good. Finally my phone rings. It's Matt. They guy didn't read the height on the one set even though the cast member specifically asked him about the heigh. So no crutches. I was so mad. Then I look at the clock, it's 2pm. We have to eat, get back to the resort, shower and get dressed and give extra time for Matt to walk to the car, since now we were drive next door to our luau, since walking there was now definitely out. So Matt gets back to the car with a brace and a candy bar for me. Isn't he sweet? Stopping for lunch was out, so we hightail it back to the resort.

We got ready and ended up getting to the luau at 4:50pm- 20 minutes late. We didn't miss anything and actually, I think it helped us get even better seats. We were right next to the stage. Perfect! Matt was really hurting and I really didn't know what to do. I tried to have him walk as little as possible, but it was hard since the pre-luau activities are so far apart. Finally we got to our seats for dinner and it began to rain. Awesome. Paradise Cove doesn't cancel a show, they just hand out ponchos. Thanks. So we spent the evening sitting in the rain in ponchos at "Paradise" Cove. I was so frustrated I almost left three different times. I think Matt had a better attitude than I did, but we made the best of it and still enjoyed ourselves. We'll laugh at the memory some day. Literally, if it had to rain our entire 15 day vacation, this is the ONLY bad day and of course it's the one abnormal rainy day they had.

After the luau, we got back in the car and drove the 2 minute drive back and then I helped Matt all the way back to the room. We had wanted to go in the hot tub, but we thought that was probably worse for his knee. I had also planned to surprise Matt with the special stargazing offered at the resort, but that wasn't happening in this monsoon. So we just went to bed hoping that tomorrow, our first wedding anniversary would give us something to smile about.

Sorry I haven't been replying. I'll get back to you all later tonight and I finally upload all of our photos onto our photo site. For now you can see some photos on our blog.
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