September 22, 2011

Slippin and Surfin (Honeymoon pt. 3)

Friday was our last day in Oahu, but our flight didn’t leave until later that night – so Jason didn’t waste any time planning our last day of adventure in Hawaii. We got up, packed, checked out, put our stuff into hotel storage, and went off to see a more tropical side of Hawaii in hiking Manoa Falls.

We had quite a lively tour guide for the Manoa Falls trip. He said he was required to give us a brief, detailed overview of Hawaii’s natural history. You could definitely tell he knew what he was talking about (although most of what he was saying was way over our heads), but the gist of it was that most of Hawaii’s plant life and animal life are not native to Hawaii.

After a 20 minute van ride, we parked in the street of a neighborhood and our guide lent us backpacks, ponchos, bug spray, and walking sticks. Yes, walking sticks. I felt bad for a Swedish mom and her two daughters who wore flimsy slip-on shoes and sandals.

Just after we started walking, our guide pointed out a Cockatoo in a tree – I never thought of just seeing one anywhere else in the world, other than in someone’s home as a pet. Our guide went on to tell us that an exotic bird shop had closed many years ago and the owner let the Cockatoos free into the jungle and they had since multiplied not too far away from the abandoned shop. Hiking further up the trial we also saw further examples of Hawaiian tropical trees not native, but thriving here anyway – East Asian Bamboo and Australian Eucalyptus trees.  
Our Tour Guide
We're weird
The higher up the mountain and closer to the waterfall we hiked, the rainier it became. Upon rounding a bend – the rain suddenly started pouring, but looking down the mountain it was still sunny – definitely a bizarre feeling! From here, the path became much steeper and muddier. After 1.5 miles, we made it to the Waterfall. It was pretty incredible watching the water continuously fall from 150 feet! Unfortunately, Jase and I were so tired and a little upset that it was now pouring rain that we didn’t really get to enjoy it before we wanted to go back down. There’s only a small space to view the waterfall and we had our tour guide take our picture next to Manoa Falls and we started heading back down. Hiking back down was a lot more brutal than the initial hike and we finally put our walking sticks to good use. It was really muddy and slippery. Jason fell on his butt and was so frustrated that his whole backside was covered in mud.
When we returned back to Waikiki, we ate breakfast at Denny’s and Jason took a “shower” in the bathroom sink to look a little more presentable.

Jason absolutely wanted to get his surfing lesson in that he had just been dying to take. We went to Waikiki beach and bought a lesson and I watched as Renaldo (surf instructor) and Jason paddled out to the waves. He LOVED it! I watched for about 45 minutes while he was out catching waves with Renaldo, and then I had to get out of the sun since I already packed away my sunscreen. Jason’s surf lesson was at least an hour and a half and when he was done he was proud to tell me that he had gotten up and surfed every wave except the first! I’m really glad he had such a great time.
Jason's in the Blue shirt
We were happy to be able to get a courtesy room at our hotel to shower and get all the mud and ocean water off of us. After a few hours, we were back on a bus to the airport to head to California. Looking back at our Hawaii experience it was truly surreal that we were there and it all actually happened and wasn't all a dream. Thanks Mom and Papa Cowles for an amazing honeymoon! 
Our new favorite shirts :D

September 16, 2011

Pineapple Palooza! (Honeymoon pt. 2)

On Wednesday, Jason and I went to none other than the Polynesian Cultural Center – rated the #1 attraction on the island of Oahu. At the PCC, you really get to know the culture of not only Hawaii, but the other Polynesian Islands of Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and Tonga. Each island has its own section at the PCC with natives of that island making Poi, teaching cultural games and dances, reciting history and songs, or giving us lessons on how to get milk from a coconut or even climb a coconut tree.
Making Poi
Where Germaine’s Luau gave us a general perspective of Polynesian culture, the PCC is like a mini Disneyland of scheduled attractions. Mine and Jason’s favorites were definitely the Samoan and New Zealand exhibits. This was my third time seeing the Samoan exhibit and let me tell you – it never gets old! It’s sort of like 30 minutes of stand up comedy from a Samoan demonstrating the many uses of a coconut – and at the very end of his act he climbs to the top of a coconut tree in just a matter of seconds. I guess what Jason and I loved most about this exhibit is experiencing firsthand how Polynesian people are so hilarious. New Zealand exhibit was a lot more serious. We enjoyed listening to their beautifully harmonized songs and crazy dancing – including the Hakka! In the afternoon a parade of rafts floated down the middle of the PCC and Jason and I got to see all the other Polynesian cultures we missed dancing and chanting on the rafts while they passed us. It only shows once a day, so make sure to get there early and get a good seat in the shade!
New Zealand
Samoa (he caught me taking a picture of him)
So, he posed for me ;)
Starting a Fire
Climbing the Coconut tree
Down the street from the PCC is our sister school, Brigham Young University – Hawaii. A lot of the students attending this university work at the PCC to pay for the expensive cost of living in Hawaii. In fact, because the majority of the students at BYU-H are from Polynesian islands, the PCC was built to allow the students to earn money and pay for their schooling while educating the public about their island cultures.
BYU-I Campus
A little further down the street is the Laie Hawaii Temple, which is absolutely breathtaking! There is a bus that takes you from the PCC to the BYU-H campus, and then to the temple’s Visitor’s Center. At the Visitor’s Center you watch a short film and get to know more about how the early latter-day saints settled Laie, Hawaii, founded a church sponsored university, and constructed a temple. Jason and I took some time to enjoy the serenity of the temple grounds and found a spot to sit and talk. It was perfect.

 Thursday was probably my favorite day in Hawaii. We did something I have actually never done before from my three previous trips to Oahu. We went to the DOLE Plantation!! This was probably our longest bus ride yet, but that’s because we took a city bus instead of a tour bus.
At the Plantation, Jase and I took the Pineapple Express – which is a small train that takes you through fields of pineapple, mangos, coffee, sugar cane, chocolate, and so much more! Did you know that pineapple grows underground? I didn’t! When we got off the train, they gave us each a piece of fresh pineapple to taste . . . and it was to die for – even Jason liked it and he’s not a fan of fruit!
Rows and Rows of Pineapple
Not so sure...
He likes it!!

Next we walked through a lush garden showcasing many of Hawaii’s well known plants and vegetation. This was just a peaceful place to walk through with Jason holding my hand and both of us enjoying the tropical plants and flowers. There is one walkway that is just FULL of all the different species and colors of Hibiscus flowers (Jason’s new favorite flower). Fun Fact: Hawaii’s state flower is the Hibiscus, but which one? It’s actually the one with the yellow petals and the maroon center. During our walk I thought I felt something tickling my leg, but I just ignored it – turns out a small lizard was sneaking up my leg and I didn’t even notice until Jason told me.
My Favorite :)
Me with all the Hibiscuses
Bird of Paradise

For lunch Jay and I had grilled ham n’ cheese sandwiches with fries and a slice of delicious grilled pineapple. Sooooo good! Later, I got pineapple ice cream! It was a little tart, but REALLY good! I also scrambled for a quarter in my purse to get a pineapple gumball! I was going pineapple crazy.
Pineapple Ice Cream
The DOLE Plantation also has the largest maze in the world! But it’s not your typical go-in-and-find-your-way-out maze. It was more of a scavenger hunt, which I liked. It was still pretty challenging. Jase and I found one of the eight places, and Jason wanted to give up. Oh, but I was not giving up yet. I said, “Let’s just find two more and then we can leave” and we ended up finding them all (after an hour and a half). Somehow the record of completing the maze is five minutes!
Inside the Maze
We finished!
Upon leaving the plantation, Jason and I bought bright yellow DOLE shirts and our post card to add to our collection (don’t worry – we’ve been collecting them along the way at each stop in Hawaii). Back in Waikiki, Jase and I went to dinner at the Hard Rock Café. I thought it would be fun to get Pina Coladas . . . but we were a little pineappled out. The Café was really cool. There was a huge wall full of guitars and the sitting area that we were in was outside. While we were waiting for our food, it started sprinkling a little bit. But when it rains like that in Hawaii, you just don’t care.