Hawaii Trip…lots of cuts…lots of pictures

Grab a Snickers.  Kick up your feet.  Relax.  If you make it through all of this, you are going to be here awhile.  Now on to the blog about the Hawaii birthday trip.

Our flight out of Chicago was at 6 am.  We left DeKalb around 2 am to head to Morris to drop the cats off at Stacy’s parents’ house.  We got to Morris at 3 am and visited for a few minutes with her mom and took off for the airport.  We got to the airport at 4:30 am and parked in the garage right at the airport.  It costs more but we didn’t have to wait for a shuttle and stand around outside.  We quickly get through security and the TSA agent told me happy birthday after he looked at my driver’s license.  Glad to see that at least some of the TSA agents pay attention while they are doing their job.  We get onto the Frontier plane and head for Denver, Colorado.  We have just enough time to get to our connecting flight to Portland, Oregon when we land in Denver.  Portland was a nice airport.  We ate lunch at a nice little restaurant and then went to the gate for the flight to Hawaii.  The guy at the gate tells me that there are first class seats available if I wanted to upgrade.  More room…all you drink for free, free earphones for the movie and did I mention that it was first class and had way more room to be comfortable on the 6 hour flight?

The guy in front of us gets fall down drunk inside of the first two hours on the plane.  He gets up to go to the bathroom and I tell Stacy to pay attention or else this guy might land in her lap.  He stumbles to the bathroom and then tries making his way back to his seat.  He falls flat on his face in the aisle and I could hardly stop myself from laughing.  He tries to get to his feet but collaspes on his face yet again.  Finally the flight attendants help him up and back into his seat.  Unfortunately, his wife refused to let him have any more alcohol to drink for the rest of the flight so we were left to be entertained by the tv onboard.  We watched an episode of New Adventures of Old Christine and Cash Cab before the inflight movie began…Mama Mia.  Stacy was happy because she has been wanting to see the movie.  I got to take a nap but still saw way too much of the movie.  Way too much.  Men avoid this movie with every ounce and fiber of your being.  We got a free meal for being in first class which was lasagna, salad and a apple crisp cheesecake.  We then got a cookie later.  Stacy had a Crystal Light Shake Em Up in a water squirt bottle on the plane and the flight attendant asked her if it was champagne!  Stacy was like "yep…I put champagne in a squirt bottle when I travel!"  We arrive at the airport in Honolulu and take a way overpriced taxi ride to the hotel…Aqua Waikiki Beachside Hotel.  It was right across the street from the ocean but the room was built for midgets and was not very fancy at all.  It served its purpose though so I guess we can’t complain too much.

We were wiped out when we got to the hotel.  We had been up for over 30 hours with just a few catnaps on the flights and had spent 15 hours in airports/planes.  So we went to bed by 8 pm (midnight here in Chicago) and I was awake at 3:30 am (7:30 Chicago time).  That ended up being a recurring theme on the trip.  I never adjusted to Hawaii time.

We went to the beach bright and early after getting caught up on our sleep.  Continental breakfast was from 7:30 to 8:30 am so around 8 we went downstairs but there wasn’t really anything left on the tables.  We had a muffin and some juice.  It was then over to the beach to take a dip in the ocean.

The water was a little cold when we first got in and being the entertainer that I am, I had to put on a show for everyone.  I played up the coldness of the water and the fact that there was a school of fish swimming around me.  There was a black guy who almost drowned from laughing so hard at my antics in the ocean.  I swear it was all an act!  We didn’t go out past the current breakers but we did have a fun hour or so in the ocean.  We went back to the room and cleaned up and decided to go up the street to cash in our vouchers to get the tickets for the shark tour and the snorkeling.  We matched as we left:

We walked up the road and got the tickets and then went to Cheeseburger in Paradise for lunch.  That place is awesome.  I got a cheeseburger squared (2 patties for those behind in math skills lol) with bacon.  Yummy.  I had a burgasm (if any of you watch How I Met Your Mother, you might have gotten that reference).  The view from the restaurant was pretty good too as it was close to the ocean.

We left Cheeseburger in Paradise and took a walk down Kalakua Avenue (beachfront) to see what Waikiki Beach had to offer.  We also had to go to the post office so Stacy could mail out some ebay stuff that sold last minute.  We came across this giant statue on the road:

It was getting warm so we went back to the hotel and got onto the internet so Stacy could check some things on ebay and we could look up some stuff to do.  We decided to go back to the beach in the late afternoon before going for supper.  Our choice for supper was Senor Frog’s.  That was a real fun place.  They had a guy making balloon animal hats for everyone on the inside but we were sitting outside on the deck enjoying the view and the weather.  

Every ten minutes or so the cooks would come from the kitchen wearing oversized cowboy hats that looked like cows and riding stick ponies running to the different tables and chanting "go, go, go" as the customers chugged shots.  Stacy was worried that it might be too much anarchy for me but since it was inside the restaurant and a safe difference from us, I enjoyed it.  I kept asking the waitress when the ballon animal hat guy was coming out onto the deck so we could get one.  The guy never came.  Finally when the waitress brought the check, I told her to let the balloon guy know that I was pissed off and went left out since he never came out to the deck so we could get a balloon.  The waitress then came back with a balloon hat for me…of a dick with 2 testicles.  Stacy thought it was hilarious.  "Cheeseburger in Paradise, McDonalds & Burger King within 2 blocks of the hotel and they gave you a dickhead balloon…they knew you were coming!"

We left Senor Frogs and I wore the dickhead balloon all the way back to the hotel…all half mile of the walk.  Woman on the streets were laughing.  Stacy was laughing.  Hell, even I was laughing.  Two guys stopped us to try to get us to sign up for a pub crawl around the beach (basically go bar hopping.)  Stacy told them that I don’t drink so they got pissed.  "You realize that you are wearing a penis on your head right?  Does that make you a dickhead?"  I told them yes and we continued on our way back to the hotel.  Overall, I thought it was a great first full day in Hawaii and we had the shark tour at 7:30 am in the morning.  Off to bed we went so we would be rested for the sharks.

The tour van picked us up at 7:30 from the hotel and we had to go to a few other hotels and pick up more people.  We ended up picking up two White Sox fans from Schererville, Indiana and being on the tour with them.  There was a girl from Japan and five people from Australia that ended up being on tour.  We drove for about an hour to get to the other side of the island of Oahu to get to the north shore.  We passed the Dole plantation where they grow their bananas and pineapples and such.  We got to the place and got onto the boat and were ready to go swim with the sharks.  4 in the cage at a time so we went down with the other Chicago people and Stacy and I paid for a dvd to be made of the adventure.  Here are a few picks.  For all the pics, you can go to:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/16911869@N07/page2/

We survived the shark swim.  It was a great time.  The water was awfully choppy so it was hard to stay under long enough to take great pictures.  We were pretty much floating on top of the water with mask and snorkel inside the cage as they threw food into the water to draw the sharks.  They would get awfully close to the cage but they never attacked.  I even stuck my arm outside the cage on most of the pictures.  Stacy talked with the older Australian guy on the way back to shore and he was quite interesting…going through a midlife crisis.  We got dropped off at our hotel and went back to Cheeseburger in Paradise for lunch.  We then went to get the pictures developed from the shark tour. 

The second day of Cheeseburger in Paradise knocked me for a loop.  I had a lot of cheeseburger on the trip so far because I had a big burger at Senor Frogs the night before as well.  I didn’t even eat supper.  Stacy had leftovers.  I had stomach pains, naseau and sunburn.  I was also feeling old since what I was eating was kicking my ass.  Stacy called and set up going to a luau for my birthday supper.  She gave them my name and told them it was my birthday.  We also set up transportation around the island and to the airport for Sunday.  Early bedtime again.

Saturday was my birthday and we woke up early and started walking the mile to the snorkeling place so we could swim with the turtles.  The Outrigger Catamaran Sailing and Snorkeling tour started at 7:30 so the waters wouldn’t be as choppy.  We got onto the boat and had to sit on a very uncomfortable net that put our legs to sleep before we got to the location where the turtles were.  Evidently, the turtles come here all the time because there is a fish that will eat the algae and crap that accumulates on the turtle’s shell.  It makes it harder for them to swim and they just know to come to this spot where these fish are that will eat it off their shells.  The tour guide called it a turtle spa.  So now you even got some education by reading this novel.  Anyway, it was then time to dive into the water and go snorkeling.  Jay was the guide that lead us around and showed us where to look for the turtles.  They were friendly little things that would practically swim right up to you in the water.

Someone on the tour found a sea urchin and Jay dove down and got it.  He then let everyone take turns holding the sea urchin.  It felt weird with its little spines trying to crawl around in your hand.  It felt even weirder when you tried to separate it from your hand.  

We even got to see some turtle sex going on in the ocean:

To see the rest of the snorkeling pictures, go to:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/16911869@N07/

After about an hour, everyone got back onto the boat.  Jay told everyone that there was a shark in the water with us and since we were all back safe on the boat he could tell us about it.  Others scoffed but I said "yeah and there it is right there" and pointed to a fin in the water.  Everyone shrieked but it was a school of dolphins.  Spinner dolphins at that.  We started sailing and the dolphins followed the boat jumping out of the water and doing corkscrew planchas back into the water.  We then sailed for about an hour around the ocean. We got more soaked from the water coming overboard from crashing into the waves then we did snorkeling for an hour.  My Bears beach towel was still soaked on Monday night when I got home.  We made it back to shore and then went to Denny’s for lunch.  Cheapest meal in Hawaii that we had lol.  It used to be a Denny’s on the beach (Stacy’s allergy doctor told us about it) but now it was a Denny’s with 3 brand new high rise hotels between it and the beach.  We then went back to the hotel so Stacy could work on her homework before the luau.  I went to get the pictures from snorkeling developed and then checked the phone for UK and Morris scores.  UK lost.  Morris won to advance to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.  They were on the brink of not even making the playoffs at 2 – 4 and then won 3 straight to finish regular season at 5 – 4 and squeak into the playoffs.  Now they’ve won two playoff games and are playing up to their potential.  I might even be able to make their quarterfinal game in Kankakee on Saturday before going to the IWA show.  Now back to Hawaii talk.

It was time to go to the luau for my birthday.  A huge charter bus picked us up to take us.  The seat right in front was reserved for me since it was my birthday.  It allowed us to be gunieau pigs for the tour guide the whole trip but he was cool.  He taught us some Hawaiian words and how to act at the luau.  He also told corny jokes so he fit in well with me.  We get to the luau and take some pics before it got too dark:

The guy on the right, although you can’t really see him, was our tour guide on the bus, Greg.  Very cool guy.  That is the pig that they cooked in the ground for 14 hours that was the main course for the meal that they are carrying.  I actually ate some of it and it wasn’t half bad.  I also tried Mahi Mahi, teryiaki beef and poi.  Stacy was amazed.  They introduced me at the beginning of the luau and had everyone in attendance sing happy birthday to me and then they sang the Hawaiian happy birthday song as well.  The dancing and comedy from watching others get on stage and try to do the dances was quite entertaining.

We got back to the hotel and went to bed so we could get up early to meet Nevon who was going to show us around the island and take us back to the airport.  First we went to the swap meet at the football stadium where they play the Pro Bowl.  We were hoping to find some good stuff but instead what we found was an entire football stadium parking lot filled with the same tables over and over again.  We even got lost walking around because of how many Lin Markets stands there were in this place.  Ridiculous.  We went back to meet up with Nevon and he drove us basically across the street to Pearl Harbor.  We didn’t go on the boat tour (lack of funds and time) but we did walk around some.

I definitely want to take the tour the next time we go to Hawaii (and by God there will be a next time).  It was very awe inspiring being on such sacred ground especially as big a history fan as I am.  We then went back to the car and Nevon told us about a spot that most tourists love to go.  We had wanted to hike on a trail or two so he took us to a state park that had a trail and a lookout point.  It was beautiful and it was basically a Hawaiian rain forest.


We then hiked down the mountaintop about a mile and we could have continued further but it was getting late and we needed to pace ourselves…especially since we had to walk back up the mountain.  When we got back to the car, it was being attacked by what Nevon had told us we would have to be on the lookout for in the Hawaiian rain forest:

We then went past the Royal Palace:

It was then time for supper at a local burger joint.  We then went to Borders to buy books and magazines to help us through the layovers.  I got the Mike Greenberg "Why My Wife Thinks I’m An Idiot" The Life And Times Of A Sportscaster Dad and I also bought the Bruiser Brody book.  I have almost finished the Greenberg book and haven’t started on the Brody book yet.  It was then time to get back to the airport and be sad about leaving paradise.

Well that sums up our trip to Hawaii.  Hands down the best vacation I have ever had.  I really needed the break and couldn’t think of a better place to have gone.  By having layovers in Portland, Denver and Seattle I was able to add three other states along with Hawaii bringing my total to 31 states and the District of Columbia.  Yes layovers count.  I was on the ground and in Seattle and Portland I spent money there so it definitely counts.  Here is my updated States Map…those in red are where I have been so I need desperately to hit New England and the northern Great Plains to fill in my map:






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