Spend the Day at Hanauma Bay

There is a reason that everyone raves about this place when it come to snorkeling, it is FANTASTIC!

Hanauam Bay is a natural preserve and because of this you have to jump through some hoops when it comes to visiting.  First off, get there early, the parking lot isn’t huge and once it fills up, they close it. We got there at 9:30am and they were only letting in 25 more cars.  The park is right off of H-1 so there really isn’t anywhere else to park nearby.  Parking is only $1 for the day, not bad at all.

There is also a charge to get into the bay, $7.50 for each adult (kids are free). However, if you are a resident (which we are, getting those Hawaiian driver’s license’s are totally worth it!) it’s free. After that you get to line up, yet again to watch a short video about the history of the bay and the conservation efforts being made to keep it safe.

It’s a pretty steep walk down to the beach itself…

But they have a little tram you can ride down (and up) that is $2 for a round trip.

The walk down is fine, the walk up is no joke!

The view is pretty nice as you walk down the hill…

I didn’t take a ton of pictures while we were on the beach, we put all of our valuables in a locker so we didn’t have to guard our stuff. There are bathrooms, lockers, snorkel rentals and lifeguards on the beach, but no snacks or drink sales.

The snorkeling was outstanding, all of the rock in the picture is reef and the fish were everywhere. We saw a moray eel within minutes of getting in the water (the only one we saw all day) and huge naso tangs, goat fish, spotted puffers, and humahuma triggers.

Once the tide started to come in it got really choppy and difficult to swim. I went out one last time before we left and was getting tossed around. Plus the visibility was getting worse and it was no fun to be out there.

The view on the ride home isn’t half bad either…

See that? That is a TRAIL going up the side of that mountain! Insane!

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Sunday in Waikiki

So Sunday I had wanted to head over to Kaneohe Bay on the eastern side of the island, but we ended up deciding to make our way back down to Waikiki and go to the Honolulu zoo.  Of course the parking near the zoo is an absolute madhouse on the weekend.  When we were staying at our hotel down here we had purchased a month long parking pass at the hale Koa hotel parking garage ($90 for the entire month!) So we decided to park there again and just walk to the zoo, stopping for lunch along the way.

We stopped for lunch at the Yard house, which I definitely recommend. They have something like 130 different beers on tap. Omar got a 1/2 yard of some local beer, Kona blonde something, I got a pint of a pear cider (yum!). Lunch was good, I got the BBQ chicken salad and it was delicious… avocado, roasted corn, shredded BBQ chicken, can’t wait to go back. Prices were pretty standard for Waikiki and they do have lunch specials.

This is also the point where I realized that I didn’t have my memory card in my camera. I was SO upset! And I didn’t even have my back up point and shoot in my purse like I usually do. So now I get to lug around my DSLR for no reason all day. I did take some crappy cell phone pictures but it’s not the same.

After lunch we keep walking. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Omar is getting ready to turn around when I spot the zoo.  They have a military and local price so we got in pretty cheap. We only had a couple of hours before the zoo closed so we had to make it fast.  The kids really loved the howler monkeys, those suckers are loud!  For the most part the exhibits are nice, reminded me a bit of the Norfolk Zoo in some places.   The elephants didn’t make an appearance, nor did the lions.  I was most bummed about the fact that by the time we made it to the kids area of the zoo they were closing it. That area closes a 1/2 hour before the zoo closes so we only had a couple of minutes to crawl inside the big koi tank, check out the cool guinea pig house and see the goats.  The kids liked it so we’ll have to go back.

Loooooong walk back to the car, passing some shops that I really wanted to stop and peek into but everyone else was just done.  I keep seeing Hawaiian style quilts and they are just beautiful. They are going on my to buy list for Hawaii!

Also, yesterday we went and stocked up on snorkeling supplies. I can’t wait until my stuff gets here in over a month and Omar needed some of his own. he actually got this really nice mask that I’m a little jealous of, but he couldn’t get a good seal on any of the cheapo ones.

So this weekend we are going to try a new place to snorkel, hopefully one that isn’t as crowded as Shark’s Cove was. It seems like all the best places are going to be crazy crowded.  We’ll have to see what we can find.

The move across the world (incredibly long and will interest very few people…)

June 29

Good morning. I am ready for the day.

Friday was a reminder of just how much I hate moving.  I know, I know my husband is in the wrong job field if I have a problem with moving. And I know I shouldn’t even be complaining because I didn’t even have to do the work of packing and boxing everything up, but it was still a really long day!

It actually went pretty quickly as moves go, they got there at 8am and we walked out the door of an empty house at 6pm. It wasn’t too bad until they packed up the chairs! Also by the end of the day my hands reeked of bleach. Nothing like scrubbing a house that is just going to sit vacant!

 

Leaving there we dropped off a whole boatload of cleaning supplies at our animal shelter on base, had to swing by the store for a leash since they packed the one I set aside (and then all of the backup ones as well) and then off to get settled in our new home (for the next few days) the Navy Lodge. Time to get used to living out of suitcases! The room is decent sized; it has a kitchenette which is good because the dining out options are pretty limited on base.

We did run over to La Plaza for dinner, grabbed some pizza and ran into a bunch of friends.  They were doing an alcohol free happy hour so I got a booze free mai tai; which incidentally is just juice. It would have been much improved with some alcohol in it! So we had another round of goodbyes which suck.

Back to the hotel with poor Bowser who doesn’t know what to do with himself. He can’t get settled and he is the worst to try to get to go to the bathroom on a walk, he NEVER goes when we are on a walk. He always waits until we are back into our yard to pee. He is such a weird dog. So needless to say we’ve been walking him and walking him to try and get him used to peeing in new places. He’s going to have to get over it or he is going to have a VERY long flight!

Goodbye Las Palmeras housing! It’s been real!

June 30

Saturday was off to a disappointing start as we woke up early to catch breakfast at the galley but got there a half hour after it closed. Really? Saturday breakfast from 6:30am to 8 am? What a bummer when I was really in the mood for some eggs, back to the hotel for a breakfast of cold cereal.  The lobby promised coffee and pastries in the morning but the coffee was some of the worst I have ever had (and I’m really not that picky) and the pastry was a little cake thing about the size of a pat of butter! Yes I am complaining and I really shouldn’t be at $75/night. Plus we did have a kitchenette so at least we had breakfast stuff on hand.

Hung around the rest of the day and even spent some time on the tennis courts, let’s just say it was a miracle if we could manage to volley more than three times! The kids had fun running after the ball and Bowser was happy to be out of the hotel room and able to stretch his legs.

Saturday night we were invited over to my friend LaDonna’s house for dinner. Omar and her husband Joe have been taking classes together so they know each other as well…. Plus she has two kids and a pool so my kids were happily entertained for hours. And her house. Oh my goodness, her house. It is my Spanish dream home! Three levels, an open courtyard in the middle, beautiful yard and tiles. I had to shut myself up because I was gushing. But seriously, if we ever move back to Spain, base housing can suck it.

July 1

July is here! Can’t believe that tomorrow we will be flying to Hawaii! Insane. Nothing on the agenda for the day, although we did actually manage to grab brunch at the galley. Much better hours on Sunday! Of course the kids don’t know how to behave at a buffet and fill their plates with way too much food.  Of course we saw some friends there to say goodbye to, I hate all this goodbying!

(and yes my husband mocked me mercilessly for taking pictures at the galley)

After breakfast we had to return our rental car, the tiny little Chevy Spark. Luckily we just had to return it to the air terminal so it wasn’t a far walk to the Exchange.  As we are walking from place to place we are reminded of doing the exact same thing 4 years ago when we first got here. It is amazing how quickly the time has gone.  Of course I was getting all sentimental on our walk, taking pictures of EVERYTHING, saying over and over, this is the last time I’ll see the post office, or my work, or the fire station. Being absolutely ridiculous about everything of course.

(Navy Lodge, random base photo, water tower)

Meandered our way over to the Exchange where the boys got haircuts (LAST haircuts in Rota!) Did some last minute shopping for things (last time in the mini mart!) then back to the hotel. Squeezed in another tennis game (if you could call it that) even though it was hot as heck out.  Spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and repacking the suitcases.

We did get to watch the final Euro 2012 game between Spain and Italy with Spain coming out on top. While it didn’t get quite as crazy as when Spain won the World Cup two years ago but it was pretty fun to hear all of the fireworks and car horns going off every time Spain scored. I will say that we were all rooting for Italy a bit, that Mario Barotelli has a great story and is quite a character.

Final night in Spain was sad, it’s hard to let go even though there isn’t anything left here. No house, no job, it’s time to move on. Spain was just such a wonderful time for our family.

July 2, 2012

Oh 4:30am is butt ass early in the morning. Amazingly we all managed to wake up okay and get everything together and out of the hotel. The only small blip was me letting Bowser out off-leash and he decided to go running off trying to find cats. I’m sure all of the other residents loved me yelling for my stupid dog at 5:30 in the morning.

To the airport at a little after 6 and the line is already insane. The first flight out is the one we are on, the 7am to Madrid, but the check in process doesn’t even start until 6. So there is a huge line of people that they have to try and get processed in 45 minutes. We are close to the end of the line, big cart full of luggage PLUS the huge dog kennel on another cart. We have to wait to check in ourselves before they will check in the dog (who is whining like CRAZY in his kennel, poor baby!). The process is just crazy, they send the kennel through a scanner then I had to walk the dog through security (thankfully he was being really good at this point) and then put him back in his kennel on the other side. At this point they are rushing us because the plane is getting ready to take off so they rush the dog out there and we are speed walking to the plane. Luckily our airport is tiny and we pretty much just walk through security out the gate, then over the tarmac to the plane.

Blurriest pic ever! He wouldn’t sit still in his crate!

*Two things with the dog: we were quoted 150euro and then they charged us 300euro and of course we had no time to argue. I’m planning on contacting Iberia not that I know if it will make a difference it was just irritating to be surprised like that. Second, they didn’t want me to leave his leash with the kennel. Oh and third, they did check him all the way through to LAX so we didn’t have to transfer him ourselves when we pulled into Madrid.*

First flight over, just an hour, the easy one was out of the way.  Getting to Madrid wasn’t too bad. They’ve remodeled since the last time we were here and it was much easier to navigate. Grabbed breakfast at McDonald’s (Egg McMuffin’s for the win!) then tried to figure out where to ask if our dog was okay. No one really knew too much about him, thankfully they said he should get on the next plane no problem. Of course me being a worry wart am asking if anyone would be giving him water or letting him out of his kennel. No one knew. So my poor baby is probably in the kennel crossing his legs right now, I did put down layers of puppy pads and blankets and towels.

Hanging on the airport train…. Omar is thrilled to be here.

This is SO FUN!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now, right now, I am smack dab in the middle of a 13 hour flight from Madrid to Los Angeles. Almost perfectly in the middle, we’ve been on the plane for almost 7 hours. So far so good. I’ve got my Kindle and my iPad and we are currently watching “A Thousand Words” on the plane (yes it is as bad as all of his other movies, so glad I didn’t pay for it)

The plane ride can’t last forever (even though it is kindof starting to feel like it) really looking forward to landing in LAX and getting to stretch my legs and see how my puppy is doing!

LAX was super crazy. We landed a few minutes late, the line for customs was insane, grabbed our luggage and waited for the dog to come down in the oversize elevator. Elevator arrives, no one will give us our dog! They said a representative from the airline had to do it! Say what! We have 1.5 hours to get out of baggage claim walk a million miles to the new gate and go through security for our next flight. Finally one of the baggage guys starts pulling stuff off and we get our baby. He was whining and whimpering to get out. Sorry baby! We go through customs and start rushing toward the United check in. Stop for 30 seconds at a pet relief area for Bowser but he was more interested in sniffing everything than peeing. Get to the check in counter, where of COURSE the lady has an issue with us sending our dog as excess baggage. She wants us to take him to cargo. Oh no lady. I’ve googled my ass off and talked to your pet coordinator, this dog is getting on this plane. (Military exemption suckers!) She calls someone gets told to stick the dog on the plane, and off we go. But not before realizing that we forgot to pick up my husbands seabag from the baggage terminal. A half mile away. That we can’t get to. Oh. Shit.

His seabag has ALL of his uniforms. Uniforms which he is required to be wearing in three days. We are panicking but have no choice but to get in line and get through security so we can catch our flight. We barely had time to use the bathroom before we had to board the flight. And hooray, we are sitting in the back row of the airplane. Worst flight ever. Big guy next to me kept stealing my armrest, I had people’s butts in my face for 5 hours as they waited in line for the bathroom. Couldn’t sleep, just miserable.

Land in Hawaii, go to baggage to tell them about our bag, they say it should make it’s way here so we don’t need to file a claim.

Omar’s sponsor and chief meet us and give us a ride to the hotel, so happy we didn’t have to try cramming in a cab. Oh, and also after I had them swing by the quarantine holding area so I could drop off some food for the dog. If you fly in after 3pm you have to pick up the next morning.

Get the kids to sleep around 1am, just for a nap I tell them. I sleep for about 3-4 hours and am up and awake at 5am. We did it. We are actually in Hawaii! And I am claiming beach front view from our hotel because I can see a sliver of water between the two hotels in front of us!

It’s starting to feel real

We got our plane tickets! It’s crazy, it seems like we may actually be moving! I don’t even really want to talk about how long the flight from Spain to Hawaii. Amazingly we are going to land the same day we take off, but actual travel time is 26 hours. Yikes.

I’m still crossing my fingers that we are going to be able to get the dog on the flight. Iberia (who we are flying from Spain with) says they don’t have any restrictions when it comes to breed or heat. Flying with a boxer in July I am worried about both.  We are flying United out of LAX and they also say they don’t have any restrictions. THANKFULLY we are able to fly him as excess baggage with United, originally they told us he was going to have to go as cargo which meant in our 2.5 hour layover we were going to have to leave the airport and navigate our way to the cargo terminal. I can’t even imagine.

So my focus now is going to be to actually pull our suitcases out and start to slowly fill them up. I am trying to keep it as light as possible. I don’t think we’ll need anything but clothes for the first few weeks. I am reeeeeeeeeaaaaally not looking forward to being in a hotel long term with two kids so I am hoping and praying that we get a house sooner than later. The problem with that is that no property management companies or anyone else renting a home wants to talk to you if you are not on island. Also hoping that Navy Housing has us bumped on the list for some reason. I am starting to feel like I’ll take ANYTHING at this point which could backfire if we end up settling for something that we end up regretting.

So. Getting excited but there is also a never ending list of things to do, things to book, packing lists to create. Hawaii, you better be worth it!

(Also if anyone has any input on Kamehameha Loop or Manana housing, let me know! They both have a very short wait list. I really wanted Radford Terrace but don’t think I can wait 4 months!)

One pack out completed!

We really are starting to get down to the wire. When I stop to think how few days we actually have left my heart hurts and I feel like I am going to have a panic attack!

I am SO not ready to leave Spain! It’s our home, it’s where my baby grew up, it’s where my daughter knows every kid she sees. I am hopeful that one day we will come back because I love it so much here.

Also, holy crap, the amount of things that need to happen from this point until we actually are in Hawaii are a bit overwhelming. I am STILL trying to figure out if we are actually going to be able to take the dog with us. The way the airlines work in the summer drives me crazy. I know that they are strict in the summer to try and minimize risk to your pet but we really have limited options! I *think* I’ll be able to get him on a United Cargo flight from Madrid to Honolulu, and I am just hoping that we can get an early enough flight from Jerez to Madrid that the heat isn’t a problem. 

Anyways, today we had our Unaccompanied Baggage/Express Shipment pack out. It should hopefully be there in 30 days so if we do (by some miracle) find a house in that amount of time we’ll have some basics to hold us over (along with the furniture from the housing office) 

Basically I just packed one of my multiples of everything I had in the kitchen, linens to include sheets, towels, hand towels, air mattresses, a tv, toys/games/bikes for the kids, a playstation for games/dvd player, a vacuum (we got rid of all of our area rugs and are down to tile here). Really just trying to lessen the amount of stuff we’ll have to buy on the other end. Shopping for the sake of shopping is fine, buying stuff you already own because you can’t get to it is the worst!

After the packers were done they did a quick walk through of the house to see how much stuff they have for when they come back for our big pack out. I’m sitting at my table crossing my fingers and praying they won’t open the closets… nope there they go peeking into the closets. Oh well. They are better than they used to be. 

Still need to clean out the lawnmower and firepit and patio furniture and power wheels. Also trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible. The thrift store is going to love me in the upcoming weeks!

Moving is slowly killing me

Moving from Spain to Hawaii is a pain in the ass. I know I shouldn’t be complaining, that yes we are  moving from one dream vacation spot to another, but I still get to complain!

First off is the dog, my baby. We still aren’t 100% sure we are going to be able to fly with him in July. Many airlines have a summer heat embargo that prevents pets from flying in the cargo hold. On top of that, he is a snub-nosed dog which has a further set of restrictions.  We have some papers we received from the travel place on base that say that the heat embargo is waived with PCS orders. But I am not believing anything anyone tells me right now with out confirmation from the airline. I don’t want to get to Madrid and have someone tell me I can’t put my dog on the airplane. What the hell would we do then???

Second, finding temporary lodging. We only get a set amount reimbursed from the military for a hotel each day and finding one under that is almost impossible. Add in parking and wifi and taxes and pet fees and we are coming out of pocket for quite a bit.  I am looking for someone on the island who pet sits so we can have the dog stay there instead of in a hotel.  (Okay while we *could* find a cheaper hotel, I don’t want to stay in a shady area. If I am going to be in a hotel for 4+ weeks I want it to be in an area where the kids and I can walk to things, so I am focusing on Waikiki.)

Thirdly: HOUSING! Holy crap is the base housing wait list long! 2-4 months! I am looking for something off base, preferably in Mililani, preferably 4 bedroom, and is pet friendly. Oh and is under $2500/month. Pretty much dreaming the impossible dream over here.

Adding onto that the kids will be starting school when we still be in temporary housing so how the heck do I decide where to enroll them? I am REALLY looking forward to living in Hawaii and I know I am going to LOVE it. I am not, however, looking forward to the transition period of the next few months. It’s going to suck.

Stressful week so I am venting. My dog acted like he was dying, impromptu girls sleepover tonight, went to see a slightly disappointing Mirror, Mirror at the drive in, and I’ve spent too many hours today researching hotels.

Let me go to sleep so I am not a zombie in the morning!