Our Hawaii vacation

I know it’s pretty pathetic that we’ve been back from Hawaii for almost two months and I still haven’t blogged about it.  Especially since I went on and on about it for a year before we actually went.

Then again, I guess it’s good timing because the bliss one gets from such a fun, warm, restful vacation has surely worn off after a couple months living in a Seattle winter.  And today is the perfect day to share about it since it’s been such a gray, wet day.

So, without further a due, here is the 2011 Haggard Hawaiian vacation!

We left Seattle on December 13th and with one stop in Bellingham, arrived in Honolulu late that night.  After re-cooping at Jared and Rosheila’s house for a day, we checked into the Hale Koa on Waikiki and spent three days there.

One of my favorite memories was waking up that first morning in our hotel room. Because we hadn’t been anywhere near the ocean or even seen it since our arrival, I was so excited to pull back the curtains, step out onto our balcony and bask in the glee that we were actually in paradise.

When that moment came, here is what I saw:

Yes, it was truly glee.  We were finally in Hawaii! Imogen and I promptly put our sunglasses on and took a photo to remember it by.

As for our time in Waikiki, though it was an enjoyable experience, Jason & I agree it’s not really our thing.  There were a lot of people, the beach itself was nothing to brag about, and the downtown area was filled with high-end retail (surprise, surprise, the Haggards don’t shop at Louis Vuitton).

What we did really enjoy was the Hale Koa.  Our room was really nice and spacious, the lanai (balcony) was big and as you can tell we had a great view. Even putting all four Haggards in the same room to sleep worked out surprisingly well (turns out the closet was the perfect spot for Imogen).

But the best part of the Hale Koa was the pool. If you have kids (or really, if you ever were a kid) you understand this.  The pool is where it’s at.  This particular pool was quite big, right off the beach, and uncrowded.  It was so convenient to stroll down there in between naps, without the huge ordeal of getting all packed up for a big outing.

The other best part about the Hale Koa was that it was amazingly inexpensive due to the fact that it was a military recreation center. AF Tech Sgt Haggard aka Aunt Rosheila made that possible for us.  Thank you, Rosheila!

After Waikiki we moved ourselves to the Barbers Point military beach cottages, which are located on the southwest side of the island.  We were there for the remaining ten days of our trip, staying with the Franci and Grandma T.

I think we would all agree this was also a great choice for accommodations. Our cottage had two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a beautiful, quiet beach right out our front door.

We filled much of this time sleeping in, relaxing between the cottage and the beach, and hanging out with the Franci.  I would wander around at times (in between diaper changing or child discipline or nursing) and think “Hmm, do I want to take a dip in the ocean now or should just lay on the beach and soak up the sun?   That is my kind of vacation, my friends.

For the sake of simplicity, I think the best way to describe the rest of the trip is by high points and low points (come on, this wouldn’t be a blog by Elisabeth if there weren’t low points).

The High Points:

Family dinners.  My very favorite times were when the Haggard-Franci-Cox clan were all sitting around the table having dinner at the cottage.  Candymom is on a whole-foods, anti-cancer diet managed and prepared by Elysia, so we ate what Candy ate (which really wasn’t all that different than what we eat at home).  The food was delicious, and it was so good to be together, talking away into the night (or maybe just until 8pm, but still), hearing the ocean through the open windows.

Surfing. Jordan took Jason out for his first time and after a few runs, he was up on the board.  He told me it was addicting and after I tried it myself, I agreed (especially since Jason paddled me out so I didn’t have to do the hard work).  And even I got up on the board once.

Jason thinks this picture makes him look like a pathetic surfer because the wave is so small

Ko Olina.  This was an awesome place, especially for families.  It’s a resort-y area on the southwest side of the island with manmade lagoons that are perfect for swimming with kids.  The grounds around the area are beautiful, the parking is free, and there are permanent umbrellas to set up camp under.  Jason and I said if we ever did come back to Oahu, we’d like to stay in this area.

That's Jason on the rocks, he's holding Ian as they search for crabs

USS Arizona.  Jason and Mother T did the tour.  I can’t report much on this in detail, except that Jason particularly like the museum, calling it very “thought-provoking.”

Pacific Aviation Museum.  This was a last-minute choice towards the end of the trip.  Ian was starting to bounce off the walls of the cottage (hey, you can only fill up your buckets of sand so many times).

It was not the Museum of Flight, but it was pretty darn good.  And Ian’s still talking about the Sikorsky Sea King he got to take a personal tour of (they only have a Sikorsky Sea Guard at the M of F and you can’t go inside it because it’s hanging from the ceiling).  Ian will tell you all about this if you ask him.

The Red Snapper at Alan Wong’s.  There was one thing that Jason & I both agreed we wanted to drop a sizeable amount of cash on during our trip: dinner. As we did our research we learned that Hawaii is not really known for a lot of culinary sophistication.  But I wanted to experience whatever the best was, something where they serve quintessentially Hawaiian fusion.

Turns out the place to go is Alan Wong’s.  And if you do go there, we heard you were practically obligated to get the leg of lamb because it’s so good.  Well, we did get the lamb and it was fine, but it had nothing on the Red Snapper we also ordered.  It was perfectly cooked and was sitting in a pool of miso and other yummy things I can’t remember.  I just remember how amazing it was to eat it.

Before the food came we agreed we were sharing, but when we realized how amazing the snapper was, I thought it a bit too convenient that it was on Jason's side of the table. He made no attempts to swap plates mid-meal.

Our beachside family photos.  Okay, so this could also be included in the low points because it took some major cajoling/threatening of a certain three-year-old.  But once we got past that, it was fun.  Plus the results were fabulous! This was partly due to Jeff Cox’s photography skills and partly due to the rockin’ Hawaiian garb we were all wearing (care of seamstress Grandma Becky).

(I must also note this probably means I’ve officially assimilated into the Haggard family since this is like the third or fourth family photo where we’re fully coordinated.  I have succumbed, in the happiest of ways).

Other fun adventures include the a dad/son date at the North Shore, seeing the Muppet Movie with the Franci, mother/daughter outlet mall shopping, a visit to Trinity Church, and the Diamondhead Farmer’s Market.

And then there were the Low Points:

The first one that stands out is getting up at the crack of dawn to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.  We were all cranky, the snorkeling was a bit of a disappointment, there were crowds to deal with, and the sand was blowing so hard it was pelting us in the face.  Oh yes, and I didn’t get to see the sea turtle I was dreaming of.

But, I did get about 15 minutes of snorkeling with my husband before we returned to the beach where Grandma T was trying to calm down our screaming children.

The traffic.  If we wanted to travel to another part of Oahu after about 7am, we could expect to sit in an hour or more of traffic (hence the early morning snorkeling).  For this reason, once we got to Barbers Point we didn’t do a lot of activities away from the cottage.  I would’ve liked to travel and see more of the island, but oh well.

It didn’t feel like Christmas.  I kept having to remind myself that when we went home it wouldn’t be summer there.  The weather really did have an affect on my mindfulness of celebrating Christmas.  Our festivities were very minimal with almost no gifts or decorations.  We did have a family meal which was wonderful, but all in all, I don’t think I would travel to somewhere warm for Christmas again.

The length of our trip.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very sad to leave.  I am still sad I left.  But I don’t think Ian was.  He was ready to be home with some routine and normalcy.  By the end of the trip he was his own personal version of Lightning McQueen–careening out of control, refusing pit stops and on the verge of blowing all four tires at once. Too much fun for too long makes one crazy kid.

In conclusion and to come full circle, I must say that what I was thinking about as we embarked on this adventure was truly a help to me.  Yes, there were some low points understandably not mentioned (some having to do with necessary attitude adjustments, a lack of sleep, and/or unmet expectations) but that is life and it could’ve been (and has been) a whole lot worse.

And I can say that I came back refreshed and ready for life.  That’s quite amazing for going on a big vacation with two little kids.  But it’s true, and I am thankful.

Also, thank you to everyone who was excited for us and prayed for our time, I think it truly added so much to our trip!

Check out all our Hawaii photos.

3 responses to “Our Hawaii vacation

  1. So excited you guys finally made it to Hawaii! Loved the photos, high/low points and recap. Though my heard did break when you said Hawaii wasn’t known for culinary sophistication. We are famous for our Pacific Rim culinary delicacies; fusing Asian, Hawaiian, etc all into an amazing melting pot of food! Some of the best and most famous chefs come from Hawaii. Hopefully you and Jason will be able to go back and enjoy some real, authentic food! Entrees and restaurants that bridges French, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Lao, Filipino, and American!! 🙂 If you need suggestions, give me a shout! XO!

  2. We did some online and guidebook research on restaurants, but I guess we should’ve talked to you, Jackie! Next time (I really hope there is a next time!) 🙂

  3. So glad to hear all about your trip. I love the way you catalogue and outline things. It’s super helpful to hear about things they way you write them! Yay for vacations!

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