Kailua Beach and Pineapples and Waves

We spent the previous couple of days exploring the nearby attractions. We spent a day at Kailua Beach Park, a gorgeous sandy beach with warm waters and a gentle surf. Here, we could bodyboard without fear of running up against sharp rocks. We brought our snorkeling gear, but there wasn’t much to be seen at the particular part of the beach that we were camped at. We all were in the water for hours: trying to bodyboard, snorkeling, swimming, and just floating around in the warm, buoyant water. The beach is a popular vacation haunt for President Obama and the First Family, and it’s no wonder why. (In fact, he’s slated to be in town for his Christmas vacation starting tomorrow.)

Alexis returns to the sea as Terry returns to the shore.

Alexis returns to the sea as Terry returns to the shore.

The next day, we toured a few spots on the North Shore on our way to Dole Plantation. We first stopped at a seemingly-unnamed beach near Kawela Bay. The beach here features rocky reefs right near the shore. The surf pulses through here, filling depressions into large pools before pulling the water back out to the sea. Alexis was taken a bit off guard as a big surge of water rolled in and rose up to her waist. We explored the small tidepools and admired the large waves that crashed just off shore.

Tide pools

We continued on the Kamehameha Highway around the North Shore. The Billabong Pipe Masters surfing event is in full swing, apparent via the endless line of vehicles parked along the highway and people in beach attire walking along the road. We found a parking spot and headed down to Pupukea beach. Massive waves pummeled the beach. We were all mesmerized by the size of the waves, rising higher than our heads before crashing down in front of us. A rocky outcropping that separated our beach from Sharks Cove was full of small pools that the kids loved to explore. Huge walls of foamy sea crashed over the wall of rock, refilling the pools.

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Alexis watches the North Shore waves.

Alexis watches the North Shore waves.

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We then headed over to Dole Plantation, the place where many of the pineapples you eat come from. The main attractions at the plantation are a guided train tour of the pineapple fields, and the proclaimed world’s largest maze. We ate lunch in the cafe: the usual fish sandwich, chicken strips, cheeseburger type fare. A few cats were on the patio dining area, adorably begging for food. The kids marveled at the size of huge snails browsing the foliage surrounding the dining area.

After lunch, we rode the Pineapple Express train tour. The little train chugged us through a sample of various plants and trees, some I had heard of and others I’ve already forgotten the names of. We passed by various machinery used to harvest pineapples while overheard speakers fed us bits of trivia. Did you know it takes 20 months for the first pineapple to grow on a plant? Then, a second one follows 15 months later before the field has to be replanted.¬†

We then entered the Pineapple Maze, which apparently holds a Guinness World Record for being the largest maze. You get a small map and are challenged to find seven stations within the maze. Each station has a slot you put your map card into to trace that station’s icon onto. The idea is once you find all seven stations you can exit the maze and consider it completed. We split into groups. Terry and Drew were the only group to find all seven stations. The rest of us settled for five or six. We spent about 45 minutes in the maze. By this time, the place was shutting down but we had just enough time to go back into the cafe for cups of Dole Whip, which I believe is just pineapple-flavored ice cream with pineapple chunks on top. Whatever it was, it was good.

Aboard the Pineapple Express

We headed back past the North Shore towards our house. We made a final stop at Waimea Bay Beach Park, where we watched surfers and bodyboarders attempt the waves. Jett chased some of the wild chicken, one of which took flight to evade him. This effectively ended an argument we had a couple of days ago, where he insisted chickens can’t fly.

“Hey Jett… What’s that chicken doing right now? Huh?!”

 

“Shut up.”

My rambunctious nephew Corvin was doing his best “JOOOOHHHNNNNN CEEENNNA!” impression and wrestling with his siblings and cousins. Apparently, Alexis managed to get the best of him when she introduced him to ‘The Peoples’ Elbow’.

Little John Cena

Little John Cena

We ended the day with margaritas and play on the beach in our back yard.

 

 

 

Oahu – The First 24 Hours

FlightOne should never take for granted, the technology that allows one to go from somewhere near the top of the planet, where the air burns one’s face with cold, to somewhere closer to the middle, where the air envelopes you in a warm embrace, by climbing into a winged cylinder with engines that suck, squeeze, bang, and blow you there in a mere six hours. It’s a fantastic time to be alive.

My family and I landed in Honolulu just before 7pm last night. My wife’s bag didn’t make the flight (the flight apparently was overweight and her bag was one of the lucky few that were held for the next day’s flight). This meant that as soon as we grabbed our rental car our first experience with the local shopping scene was a quick trip into Target for some of the essentials that were supposed to arrive with us in her suitcase.

Famished as we were, we ate at the first restaurant we could find: a joint I had never had been to before called Ruby Tuesday. Their smokehouse cheeseburger is a seriously good eat, but we all agreed that my wife’s Chicken and Broccoli Pasta was the best dish on the table.

We were excited to get to our house, so we hit the road. From Honolulu to Laie–the town we’re staying at–the highway cut us through the middle of the island towards the eastern coast, which we then followed north to Laie. It’s a one-hour drive, but that’s only because most of the drive has a speed limit of 35-45 miles per hour. Much of it was two-lanes winding along the coast. It was dark, so our views were limited. Occasionally, the road skirted close enough to the beach that streetlights illuminated the water. I think I even saw some turtles, but I’m the only one that believes me. Before we knew it, we had arrived at our home for the next week plus.

We rented a large, five-bedroom house right on the beach. We’re sharing it with my brother-in-law and his family who are arriving a day after us. After a most brief tour of the house, we went out back to check out the beach. Apparently, some of the beaches on Oahu are seasonal and we were expecting ours to be one of them. To our good fortune, a most quintessential sandy beach is just outside our back door and ready for our enjoyment. It was too dark to see much, but from what we could make out by the light of my LED headlamp (which I never leave home without!) we had quite a space to enjoy as soon as the daylight showed itself.

The stars were magnificent. Fortunately, the light pollution here is very minimal and I had a limitless view into the heavens. Stars and planets glistened brilliantly above the crashing surf below. The Geminids meteor shower peaking, it was almost too much to believe.

Jupiter rising above the Pacific.

Jupiter rising above the Pacific.

After a long day of traveling and the extra fatigue that always accompanies 3,000 miles worth of flying, we were all exhausted. The wife and kids went to sleep, but I was too excited to follow suit. I was up until nearly 2am sitting in the back yard, photographing the stars and watching meteors streak across the sky. Some of them brilliantly shot below the eastern horizon, appearing as if they were landing in the ocean. I sat out there on the wet grass and breathed humid air until Jupiter had climbed well above the horizon. I finally came inside and let the ocean lull me to sleep.

The next morning our plan was to get the rest of the things we needed for our stay: a trip to Costco, acquiring our snorkel gear, and arranging the delivery for our missing bag. My son and I swam in the ocean while waiting for the other two to get ready to go. The current is remarkably strong on our beach, almost impossible to swim directly against. It was fun letting the current pull me along the coast while I floated.

My first daylight view from our home in paradise.

My first daylight view from our home in paradise.

Everyone ready to go get our shopping out the way, we hopped in the car. We skirted the north shore on the way to the Costco in Waipio, driving past endless roadside shops, fruit stands, food trucks, and surfers. We passed myriad fields, growing coffee, sugar cane and pineapple. We stocked up on groceries and then made the return trip back. We stopped at a few places along the way. We bought fresh fruit and a few trinkets (I got a wooden beaded bracelet for $3.50 from a store that had the most docile cats lounging around. I thought being a cat in Hawaii might not be a bad reincarnation.)

Alexis taking in the roadside sights.

Alexis taking in the roadside sights.

Back at the house, the kids and I went to play in the water. I had warned my daughter about the current and had her experience it for herself as I swam nearby. Eventually, my son wanted to try out the bodyboards that came with the house. The waves, at that time, weren’t the best for bodyboarding but it was fun floating around on the things. I paddled out near a reef that’s just off shore and tried to ride the current back onto the beach. As I neared the beach, I came upon a shallower spot with jagged rocks below me. I scraped the top of my foot against one of the rocks. I tried to stand and wade away from the potential danger but it was too late. A larger wave crashed over my head and pushed my body down onto the razor-sharp rocks. I received a couple cuts on my wrist, one of my fingers, and my foot. Nothing serious, but enough to reinforce the potential danger to my kids. Unfortunately, they seemed less concerned with my wounds and more excited by the fact that my blood might attract sharks. “Stay in the water, dad! I want to see the sharks!”

The first battle scars of my war with the Pacific.

The first battle scars of my war with the Pacific.

We cooked tacos for dinner and sat around watching movies. I cracked my bottle of Laphroaig, which paired nicely with the sea breeze flowing through the beach house.

Jett absorbs paradise.

Jett absorbs paradise.