You don’t see much of me in these photos, but here’s one!

Note: I wasn’t sure if I’d have anything to write. We had a 7pm redeye flight home (in other words, we flew overnight from Honolulu to Denver; with the time change we arrived at sunrise). We ended up having quite an adventure up the eastern coast of Oahu, discovering the Polynesian Cultural Center:

We hit the pool one last time before we had to check out of the hotel room by 11am. We enjoyed lunch at L&L Hawaiian, then on a whim we decided to drive up to Laie, the town in the northeast with the Polynesian Cultural Center. The drive there from Honolulu is very pretty, with several stretches that literally hug the ocean.

My chicken saimin lunch at L&L Hawaiian in Honolulu.

There is a lot to do at the Polynesian Cultural Center that doesn’t require an admission fee. The fee covers the island demonstration areas further┬áback in the park, and we learned about a “Wiki Wiki” rate that worked well for us since we only planned to spend about 2 hours there.

Short on time at the Polynesian Cultural Center? Ask for the Wiki-wiki Admission!

That being said, we somewhat regretted making the investment even for the one-hour ticket, since we learned a lot of what they offered from other things we had experienced this week. The dancing and music weren’t as good as the Hale Koa luau (this is a Latter Day Saints mission for those who didn’t know). Oh, and it was really hot: this might have been the most inland activity we experienced all week and there was no sea breeze. From my Trip Advisor review:

Most information one will find about the PCC will involve full-day packages that include the island tours, the 4pm luau, and the Ha: Breath of Life show. Our family wasn’t interested in something that tethered us to one attraction for the day, so at first we weren’t even planning to visit the PCC.

However, on our last day, we had 7 hours between checking out of our hotel and heading to the airport, so we drove our rental car up the coast and decided to see what we could do at the PCC. I read here on TripAdvisor that someone was able to take advantage of a $10 per hour ticket, so we asked about that. We walked up to the ticket attendant and said “We have till 3pm, what are our options?”

Lo and behold, the Wiki Wiki option does exist but they will hold an ID of some sort as collateral. It’s clear that Wiki Wiki isn’t their preferred way to visit the park: there is quite a bit to see and we had to be careful about what we visited during the limited timeline. We got our 1-hour ticket at about 1:30pm, but the ticket attendant said “You can stay till 3pm” and she wrote that on our tickets.

We were able to be in the “islands” part of the park during the canoe pageant. It was fun to watch the dancing and hear the music, but since our family had experienced the amazing Hale Koa luau just a couple evenings prior, seeing the PCC’s version felt much less exciting. The PCC’s costumes and dancing styles are less authentic (due to modesty considerations), and you won’t see any of the traditional Polynesian tattoos on their dancers.

One of the observations about our experience in the park was this seemingly controlled timeline. I know there are many tourists who prefer and enjoy that setting, but our family is definitely more free-spirited. When we walked into the islands area, they were just wrapping up the demonstrations at the individual island exhibits, trying to get all the guests lined up along the river for the canoe pageant. So there wasn’t anyone around to show us demonstrations, even though that’s what our family would have preferred to sitting waiting for the canoe pageant.

We didn’t eat at any of the formal dining settings so we can’t speak to that, but we did enjoy the baked goods at Pounder’s.

Our family was very happy we didn’t book one of the day-long tours, we’d have lost our minds having to stay the whole day with such a controlled environment. We later realized that the Kualoa Ranch up the road would have been more our style and we wished we had stopped there instead.

This is the entrance to the “ticketed” area of the Polynesian Cultural Center. There’s plenty to see, do, and eat in the non-ticketed area.

There are seven “islands” you can visit to learn about the differing Polynesian traditions. Here we’re watching a textiles demonstration.

At about 2:30pm there’s a canoe regatta featuring each of the islands’ dances. This is the Hawaiian Islands canoe.

We drove back to the Hale Koa, turned in the rental car, picked up some souvenirs, and Ubered to the airport for our red eye flight home.

Farewell Hawaii! Hopefully we can make it again someday. We want to visit the “Big Island” next, and show the boys (and Dave) Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Driving towards Haleiwa, Hawaii, on the North Shore.

On Thursday we picked up a rental car at about 7:30am and headed straight over to the USS Arizona memorial to see about getting tickets for the same day. We got ourselves tickets for the last boat ride at 3pm, and took a drive around the island in the intervening time.

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A panoramic shot of Kaneohe Bay, on the east coast of Oahu. Can you see the P-3?

Today’s adventure was a trip over to Kaneohe Bay on the east side of the island, a location well-known for snorkeling. We were not disappointed. More »

For a Colorado family, hiking up Diamond Head was cake! I just wish it wasn’t so crowded.

Today was an active day. We awakened nice and early to take an Uber over to the Diamond Head State Park trailhead, arriving at around 8am. We easily took the trail up and back and enjoyed the views immensely, but didn’t enjoy the crowds or the incredible humidity: we were pretty soaked in sweat by the time we got back to the base area about an hour later.

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I am logging our Hawaii vacation based on the Facebook posts I wrote. I am also adding a few of the photos I shared to Facebook.

Day 0:

Pearl Harbor and Honolulu Airport/Hickam AFB as seen from our Boeing 777 in the final pattern.

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20. May 2017 · Comments Off on Where Have You Been, Woman???? · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Yeah, I know. I’ve been scarce. I am liking the Instagram connections with the blog, but I get that it isn’t saying much.

My last “normal” post was on January 5th, about my Instant Pot that I got for Christmas. But let’s now play a little catch up. This post will be full of photos and YouTube videos, so bear with us. More »

03. January 2017 · Comments Off on A Condo Vacation’s Best Friend: The Instant Pot! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,
Merry Christmas to me!

Merry Christmas to me!

I got an Instant Pot for Christmas from Dave and my boys!** Whoo!

**No, I don’t mind getting kitchen appliances as gifts. I find a lot of joy in the kitchen and the geeky side of me loves checking out the latest in “kitchen tech.”

Believe it or not, through all my cooking adventures, I never delved too much into pressure cooking. I remember my parents’ pressure cooker, it was the kind with the little weight that sat on top: when the pressure was just right, the little weight would rock back and forth singing an undulating whistle of steam. I don’t remember the specific recipes they’d cook, I think it was vegetable soup and maybe chili.

It was years before I’d really delve into how a pressure cooker works and why it could be one of the most useful things in a busy family’s kitchen. More »

02. January 2017 · Comments Off on Happy New Year! A Family Holiday Update · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Our family had a fun, although rather subdued, holiday season. Dave had a pretty major surgery Thanksgiving week — a procedure called a “microvascular decompression” — and he’s been home recovering with the family for the month of December. Because of that, we kept our social calendar pretty empty: we didn’t have our traditional holiday open house for the first time since 2008 (when I was TDY for much of December), and we didn’t go to any of the holiday parties to which we were invited…except for the Boy Scout party for the kids. That one was definitely our speed.

Dave’s parents visited for a week right after Dave came home from the hospital. By this point Dave wasn’t able to do much, so his parents enjoyed a relaxing week.

For this new year, I’ve taken the advice of a fellow GeekMom writer and tried to come up with a single word to direct my efforts. My word for 2017 will be “Return”. “Return” to work (hopefully), “Return” to writing (for this blog and for GeekMom), and “Return” to my exercise habits that I’ve allowed to falter in 2016. More »

17. November 2016 · Comments Off on Half-Bath Mostly DIY Transformation: Finished! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
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Before… (and pardon the blurriness of the photos…it was tricky getting photos in the small space.)

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After. To get these views, I’m taking selfies with the camera in the corner of the bathroom.

We are finished with our half-bath upgrades (and hopefully home improvements in general for a while)! Over the 3-and-some-change years we’ve lived here, we’ve done an assortment of little things to make our main floor half-bath look a little nicer.
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13. November 2016 · Comments Off on DIY Stairwell Transformation: All Done! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Back in October, while the contractors were working on the bathroom, Dave and I stained the banisters of our stairwell. Wow what a difference it made!

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This is just before taking off the masking and putting on the polyurethane gloss coat.

We used the General Finishes Java Gel Stain. Be sure to take your time thoroughly masking the areas. I used brown paper instead of taping several inches down the balusters. After “washing” the oak-colored surfaces with liquid sander deglosser, I used an old clean sock to apply the stain on the broad areas. If you put the sock over your hand, like I had, be sure to wear a rubber glove — the stain will stain your skin for several days. For the fine detail area (such as the underside of the railings near the balusters), a small foam brush worked just fine. More »