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O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 5

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 5

Sunday, July 6

We were supposed to go to Pearl Harbor, but Michelle stayed up a bit late after the wedding, so didn't wake up early enough. Since all tours leave at 6:30am, we couldn't do that either. So, Erika & Sharon bought a tour for Tuesday, after I'd be gone. Eventually we did hook up with Michelle and Dorothy. Dorothy was like death on feet. She was absolutely exhausted. All of us headed up toward's North Shore. We passed the Dole factory place, but we didn't stop. Just whizzed by saying "Ooh, look it's Dole". We stopped in Hale'iwa and ate at Macky's Shrimp Truck. We each ordered different shrimp dishes and shared with everyone. Everything was just delicious.

After we ate, we made our way to Shark's Cove for some snorkeling. As we are walking down to that beach, I recognize someone. As we get closer, I realize I am right. I see Brian Grazer with two children getting ready to go out in the water. I know you're probably thinking "big woop" but he's a HUGE TV & Film producer. There are very few producers that are as well known as he is. Granted, he's got a bit of a unique look so that helps. Anyway... we continue on, go out. Froze our butts off. It was beautiful snorkeling. Not the best or anything, but still it was great. The surf was a bit rough, but still manageable. We got out for awhile, chilled, then went back in for a bit more. We were trying to catch glimpses of a turtle or two. Unfortunately we never did see one.

After leaving there, we headed up the road just a bit and stopped at a rest stop type area. Dorothy cleaned up a bit as her flight was in a few hours. We then walked across the street to Sunset Beach to have a dip while the sun was setting. Dorothy stayed in the car and slept. Sharon didn't get in the water, but sat on the beach while Erika, Michelle and I got in the water. It was a really cool beach. Right after we got near the water it dropped off something fierce. It was cool though. The waves were constant and rolling, I could definitely see how they could be monster waves in the winter. Great place for it. Apparently Sunset Beach is where a lot of the North Shore surfing competitions are held. That would be awesome to see.

We headed back towards Honolulu and dropped Dorothy off at the airport. After we left the airport and we were about halfway back to the hotel, Michelle got a call from Dorothy saying she found a different flight in the morning she would rather take and to come get her. So, we start to turn around. Then we get a call from her again saying that she was wrong and she didn't need us to pick her up. Craziness.

We eventually make it back to the hotel, rinse off quickly, and go down to the restaurant at our hotel called Tiki's Grill & Bar. We treat Michelle to dinner as she drove us around everywhere. I ordered the Hawaiian Gnocchi. It was awesome. It had a coffee based sauce and had pork, butternut squash, carrots. It was really good. The girls helped me finish it off. After that, I gave Michelle a big hug and said goodbye. I really like her. I will definitely have to keep in touch. She's good people.

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 4

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 4

Saturday, July 5th

Ahhh.. the wedding day. How I do love weddings. (that's sarcasm)

Sharon left the hotel really early to go get ready for the wedding with all the other bridesmaids. Erika and I eventually got up, went & got our breakfast as usual, and then slowly got ready for the wedding. Once we were done we walked the whole two blocks to the church -- St. Augustine By The Sea. We arrived at 11:15am, and the wedding was set for 11:30am, but we seemed to be the only ones non-wedding party related. This was when I started to realize that maybe everyone at the wedding was with the wedding party. And by wedding party in this case, I mean the people directly in the wedding in some way or another. Eventually the wedding started, and it was a full on Catholic mass. There was a bit of Philippine tradition that I had not seen before at a wedding, which made it a little more interesting. New stuff spices it up for me, ya see. After the wedding, we blew bubbles at the couple.

On our walk back to the hotel,  Erika and I decided that we were going to be naughty and go to the beach in the time between the wedding and the reception. So, we went to the beach, had fun & sun, then went back to our hotel to re-shower, re-dress, re-primp. So, freshly ready yet again, we got a taxi to take us to Kahala Hotel & Resort where the reception was being held. Holy crap. This place is the kind of place that really really rich people and celebrities stay at. This place was just gorgeous, and extravagant, and just insane. They have their own dolphins for pete's sake. We walked around the courtyard there, found the bride & bridesmaids taking pictures near the beach, and waited for them before we headed to the cocktail hour. Had some cocktails and hors d'œuvres, and then into the ballroom for the reception.

We waited for awhile while being situated and the wedding party got ready to make their entrance. It was kind of funny, cuz they entered to like maybe 10 people that weren't part of the family/party. It was cute. The couple did their first dance (before dinner?) and then there were some speeches & toasts. Now, I will say the toasts started me thinking and slowly got me in a bit of a funk. My bad, but it still sucked. Ya see, there were three (or more) toasts at my wedding, and they were all about telling me how lucky I was to have Mike. But no one came up to talk about me and how lucky Mike was. It was slightly embarassing, and as is evident, still eats at me a bit. Which then got me thinking about my brother (who was my Man of Honor) and family in general, and that just got me to a really bad place. I couldn't even muster up the desire to dance. And I love to dance. It was just a bummer.

Anyhoo... So, dinner was served. The first course was a sushi style plate with three different types of tuna pieces, including a tartare -- which I love. We'd seen the menu for the night, but I couldn't really remember what it all was. But I do remember lobster being involved at some point. So, really looking forward to everything if the first course was this yum. Second course was a seafood (including lobster) stuffed pastry purse which was very tasty too. Then the main course was a filet mignon and lobster, over potatoes & asparagus. So simple, yet so well done. Excellent. But, the real kicker was yet to come. The dessert. You would think the wedding cake would be THE dessert. But oh no. There was crème brûlée, and boy was there. That had to be the best crème brûlée, I've ever had. And it was HUGE too, so it wasn't like you weren't going to get enough. I looked over at Erika at one point, and said "Would it be bad form if I started to lick this clean?" and her response was something like "Not at all, it would almost be a shame if you didn't. And I might join you." I totally paraphrase, but that was the basic gist. Point being - DELISH! Then the wedding cake came out and I'm so friggin' full at this point I just point at the chocolatey looking flavor piece and take a couple surprisingly bland bites and push it to the side. I think the other flavor was a guava flavored one, but I tried that and it was equally blah. But, that's OK. Cuz the cake was gorgeous and all the rest of the food was divine. You can have one bad thing, especially when everything else was insanely awesome. Oh, as a side note.. our waiter was a complete dick. We were so nice to him. We kept saying "Thank you!" when he handed us our dishes and he would give us these ugly sneers and not say anything at all. We would ask for refills and he would get snooty and say the bar is closed, and when we told him it wasn't that just made him worse. Erika decided she would kill him with kindness and was extra nice and that just seemed to irritate him more. It did become fun after a bit though.

So, after the food, I believe this is when the dancing begun. Yah, at this point I was just a bummer, and sat back being kind of sad. For whatever reason, it was really hard to see there and see this HUGE family with friends having such a great time and being so close and being silly with each other. Instead of enjoying it for what it was, it just made me sad. After that, as we started to walk out, we noticed some pictures by the door. The photographers (There were 4, and 2 videographers) had already printed out some of the photos they took earlier that day and had them in this cool frame. The photos were awesome. The couple have a page with a slide show of some of the pics and also their wedding page. Check it out.

We headed out to the front of the hotel to get a concierge to get us a taxi. While we were waiting, Sharon decided it was time to get her bridesmaid's dress off right then and there. It was way too small for her and she was in pain most of the day. Actually, it seemed like most of the bridesmaids were uncomfortable cuz their dresses were too small. So, back to Sharon, she grabs her bag that her clothes are in and starts to strip right there in this extravagant hotel's lobby. It was awesome. She seemed a bit tipsy too, so that was even funnier. She did it very sly-like, granted, but it was still awesome. She pulled her shirt on over the dress, unzipped the dress... sighed in relief and enjoyed that for a moment... then pulled on her pants under the dress then got the whole dress off. Voila! She also kept flingin' her bouquet here and there and the flowers in it were mostly gone, but at one point she decides to try to pitch it in what she thought was a trash bin, but was really just a big nice huge plant-type pot set out for display. It was fun to watch.

Got the taxi, got back to the hotel, crashed.

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 3

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 3

Friday, July 4th

Again, fuzzy on the morning details. But I remember that Sharon was at the wedding rehearsal and Erika and I split a pizza and a salad at Wolfgang Puck Express. At some point we met up with Sharon, Dorothy, and Michelle. Michelle dropped the rest of us off at Diamond Head State Monument. I didn't realize we would be doing some hiking, so did not pack appropriate footwear for the occasion. But I decided I could do it anyway. OMG. I should have used the fact that all I had were flip-flops as an excuse to stay back. Goodgawd. I literally made it like 20 feet from the top. I just couldn't make it any further. I felt like my stomach was going to come out of my mouth. I got close enough. The rest of the girls went up the last set of steps from hell to take the view in from the top. I stayed in a little area just below those steps admiring my view. It was gorgeous too. Hmph. Before we started the hike back down, we called up Michelle to tell her we were on our way down. We hiked back down, which always takes so much less time than going up, grabbed a shave ice (yes, that is shave ice, without a D. It's like that everywhere in Hawaii. I thought it was weird too), and generally chilled out while we waited for Michelle. When Michelle arrived she also had the bride to be. We all squeezed in the car, and Michelle headed towards our second drop off point -- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

She dropped us off. We ate at the cafe at the top before heading down to the bay to snorkel. Before going down, you have to watch a 15-minute video instructing you on how not to be an ass and destroy coral and mess with the fishies environment. We head down there, get our gear, and off we go. Sharon & Dorothy seemed to have quite a difficult time of it that day. It was quite humorous even. I always knew they were nearby cuz you could hear the laughing/screaming/quasi-panic sounds when I lifted my head up. Michelle told us she would be picking us up at 4pm, so we got out near that time and started to rinse off, dry off, etc. While doing all that we get a call from Michelle saying she would be an hour late. But we were already packed up and ready to go. It was kind of a bummer. So, we hung out at the beach there for a bit, returned our snorkel gear, and took the little bus thingy up the hill. The bus was my treat for everyone cuz I was tired of the hiking bit, and was willing to fork over the dough to not have to walk up that hill. We waited at the top for quite awhile. Even endured a light sprinkling of rain at some point. Michelle & Aileen (the bride), came and got us.

Back to the hotel for us where we got cleaned up. After Erika & Sharon showered, they went off to get Korean BBQ while I showered. I met back up with them on the road, where we spent entirely too long looking for Aileen's hotel. We eventually found it, with no help from the locals. No one knew where this hotel was and it was right off the main road. It was weird. Anyway, we finally made it there. We eat on her balcony, and then when it gets to that time, everyone heads out to the balcony to watch the fireworks. We could not have had a better view. It was awesome. It was a 20-minute long display of awesome firepower. Shortly after that, we left, and crashed.

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 2

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 2

Thursday, July 3rd

I honestly cannot remember how the morning went this day. I didn't write my notes on this day until days after, so I just completely lost the morning. No biggie.. it was probably something like, woke up, ate breakfast. I know, exciting right? The part I do remember is Erika and I walking down the main street there looking for a spa to get a massage. I was excited by the thought of getting one, but also nervous. I've never gotten one before and it's always seemed so bizarre to me. Some stranger feeling you up. Well.. hmm.. now that I put it that way. Doesn't sound so bad :D

We checked out one place but it didn't quite meet Erika's muster. So, we keep walking. We try to go up to one, and it ends up being on the roof of this kinda moldy smelling hotel. Good thing that one was closed. Ew. We ended up at the Hyatt Regency Wakiki Resort & Spa called Na Ho’ola , and WOW. I can just say... WOW. WOW. First, the place is just so serene and gorgeous, and you seriously have an elevated front row view of the greatest part of Waikiki Beach. Just like that picture on their website. Hell, that might even be the chairs me and Erika sat in and the view we saw. Beyond gorgeous. WOW. We look over their menu of spa services and decide to get the couple's massage (cuz it's cheaper that way you pervs) and choose the Ho'ola massage. I guess it's their signature massage or something. But, since I don't know any type of massage from another, I can't really tell you how it differs. WOW. WOW. I know, but yah, it just rocked my world. We finish that up, go take showers in their very nice girls locker room, and head out to do some more relaxing beachside.

Before hopping across the street to the beach, Erika & I grabbed a deli sandwich and some fruit from a convenient store and split all that while sitting on a park bench looking out at the beach. Seems so simple and like no big deal, but just sitting there eating and looking at a gorgeous beach is just about as relaxing as it can get. We finish that up, walk about 30 feet from the bench and plop down our beachmats and stuff. I didn't know about Erika, but I can't just lay out at a beach. Dunno why, but that's just not how I roll. I'm a water gal. The waves are good too. I like being smacked around by waves. Call me crazy. I think it was just before we head into the water or maybe just after, that Sharon met up with us. She was done with her bridesmaid duties for the day, so had some time to play with us. I practically ran into the water. I just couldn't wait. Sharon seemed a bit intimidated by the water, but she managed to wiggle her way out a bit. All three of us pretty much just played in the waves and had fun.

We did have to be ready for the lu'au by 3:45. For some reason, we had it in our minds that everyone else was wrong and our thinking of 4:45 was more accurate. What we didn't realize is 4:45 was when the lu'au started. But, 3:45 was when the buses were going to be behind the Hyatt to pick us up to drive us an hour to get there. So, a few phone conversations made us realize this and we had to scramble FAST. Three females got ready, including showers and partially blown dry hair, in less than 30 minutes. It might be a record. I sacrificed, I showered last and let my hair wet. I know, such a friend. Had nothing to do with the fact that I hardly ever blow dry my hair.

We end up running several blocks to where the buses are, then get in this long line. Sharon can't see anyone from the wedding party in our line, so we're kinda wondering what is going on. Another phone call, and we find we are at the wrong bus. Thankfully, our bus is just on the other side of the street from the current one. The wedding party was so big we got our own bus. Yay! They were waiting for us, cuz as soon as we got on, off we went. It did end up taking us an hour to get there cuz of Honolulu traffic. It's a beast, but nothing I haven't seen before. We get to Paradise Cove and it almost feels like an amusement park entrance. We get shell lei'd, handed a mai tai, and we get a group picture the entire wedding party. I say wedding party, meaning everyone in the wedding and attending the wedding. It was about 60ish people.  Then we are off on our own to check out the arts & crafts and demonstrations. The actual food portion of the lu'au wouldn't start for another two hours. So, we needed to be busy. One of the first things we did was head towards the shore area near some bushes and start taking pictures of each other. While taking these pics, a tall attractive dude was nearby and Sharon asks if he would take a pic of all three of us. He does, then Sharon starts talking him up. He's from Oklahoma, he's there in Hawaii with a couple hundred or so high school football boys (oh, that's who all those dudes in jerseys that got off 3 or so buses were). See, he's coaching them in some All-American team thing they've got going. Wowza. So, just as Sharon is going to make the transition to get Erika in the conversation, Michelle calls us over to her to get pics with them. Introduction of two attractive singles only one state apart failed. It could have been so beautiful.

We get more drinks and keep walking around. Quick lesson on drinks ... Mai Tais are everywhere and they are really delicious. Apparently there is this other drink called a Lava Flow that is also everywhere and consists of a Pina Colada with a strawberry mix of some sort, resulting in the sweetest damn drink I've ever had. I think Sharon ordered one, and after a few of us tried it, it sat there all alone, un-drunk. Deathly sweet. I'll conclude with the Tropical Itch. This was my kind of drink. And apparently everyone else's too. We all ended up getting them a few times, and every time you ordered one it came with one of those bamboo back scratcher. Yah, I have a few. It was very refreshing to drink with abandon knowing that the worst we would have to do was walk to where the bus dropped us off to our hotel. Funny thing though, no matter how much we drank, and the tropical itches seemed rather full of alcohol, I don't think any of us got drunk. It was weird.

Finally, it's getting time for the food, and they sound the alarm (blowing a conch shell) and everyone hustles over to this mini arena type place where the pig is roasting and they do this ceremony thing that I can't see too well, and then the pig gets pulled out of the ground and taken away. We finally get the OK to head to the buffet and I think I got a little of everything so I could say I at least tried it. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting as far as food goes. I mean, there was the kalua pork, and some mahimahi, and this lomi lomi salad, but everything else seemed very American-picnic-y. Pasta salad, salad, white rice. I'm sure there's more, I'm just not remembering. Good food, just not as "Hawaiian" as I was expecting. While we eat, we get some entertainment with some hulas and such, but then after most everyone is done eating the real show starts. It was really good. Lots of hulas, different types of polynesian dances, like the Maori Haka, and even a fire dance that I think is supposed to be of Somoan origin. My only criticism of the show was I thought the main host or storyteller was a bit on the cheesy side. Kinda Las Vegas-y in a way. But still, it didn't put me off from the show.

All is over, we pile back onto the bus -- but not before we get a picture with one of the half-naked men at the lu'au -- and head home. Back to hotel, crash.

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 1

O'ahu, Hawai'i - Day 1

I leave Wednesday, July 2nd at 10:00am from Austin Bergstrom. My friends Sharon & Erika leave on a different flight at 10:40am. Right as I was about to board, they came and found me at my gate and gave me a holla and a see-ya-soon. Good to see them before I head out. My flight there consists of Austin -> DFW -> Maui -> Honolulu. A bit of a pain, but I don't have any major layovers. However, the DFW -> Honolulu bit is an 8 hour flight. I didn't like that much. Next time, I would rather break it up at LA or something. 8 Hours is a really long time, and I didn't have the greatest of seats. Nothing awful, like a middle seat, but it wasn't a window.

I get into Honolulu at 4pm-ish local time. The ladies aren't due in Honolulu for another hour or so. I realize that since I came in on Hawaiian Airlines, that I'm nowhere near where I need to be to meet the girls at their baggage claim area. I find someone and they tell me that I can take an airport shuttle that will take me over to the other terminal. I wait for about 15 minutes where they tell me to, but no shuttle seems to be coming my way. I find a map of the airport, and it looks like I can walk to it easily enough. I start walking with my bags, and after what seems like forever, I find the American Airlines baggage area. Just in time, after a bathroom break and a quick phone conversation with Mike, I see the girls headed down the escalator. We do the hello hugs, and talk about flights and all that, and get their bags. Just as we get the bags, Sharon's friends Dorothy and Michelle come running up to us with gorgeous fresh leis. I got lei'd! I didn't think I would get one. It's not like an automatic sort of thing, yanno.

We cram into Michelle's "Island Beater" as she calls it, and head to our hotel. It's a bit of a drive in the evening traffic, and less than 5 minutes out of the airport, we have a bit of a funny thing happen. The three of us girls are in the back, Sharon is in the middle and I'm on the driver side. A mustang pulls up next to the car on the passenger side and the driver dude sees we have on leis. Well, of course that clearly indicates we're fresh on the island, so the following exchange takes place:

Mustang Guy: You need real leis.
Sharon (pulls up and looks at her lei): These are real.
Mustang Guy: That's not the type of lay I'm talking about. <light turns green, and he drives off>

That has us laughing for quite a bit. We definitely start our trip off interestingly. We head to our hotel - ResortQuest Waikiki Beach Hotel - and drop off Sharon & Erika and all of our bags. You see, I'm a bit of a stowaway. We didn't happen to tell them about me, the third person. So, I need to make like a tree and get out of there. Michelle, Dorothy, and I go to park her car at her place, and then we walk back to the hotel. I finally take a very needed shower, and we head out to dinner at Sansei Seafood & Sushi Bar just across the street. It was very good, we have a lot of fun... well, as much fun as three girls that are jet-lagged and about to pass out. After eating we immediately go back to the hotel and crash.

Travel day over.