Saturday, January 20, 2007


Aloha from O'ahu! We are having a great time here. We arrived in Honolulu on January 11, checked into our hotel on Waikiki and went for a swim in the ocean--it was lovely! The weather has been nice, although a little rainy at night and early mornings with highs in the low 80s, lows in the high 60s.

To start our trip, we drove from Boise, ID to San Francisco. Luckily the roads were clear of ice and snow the whole way so we sailed right through in one day. We stayed with Matthew's cousin, Greg, and spent a day seeing the city of San Francisco. We checked out Fisherman's Wharf and China Town. One of the highlights was exploring an old sailing ship on one of the piers. It had a lot of history and was all set up with displays and loads of cargo like it would have carried during its career as an old time freighter. This picture shows the ship with the island of Alcatraz in the background. We liked the city because it is so neat and clean. If it weren't for the outrageously high cost of living and all the liberals (says Matthew) we might consider living there.

We spent our first four nights in Honolulu, spending time on the beach and checking out the shops on Waikiki in the evenings. Boogie boarding was fun (Michelle's first time!) and we did some snorkeling at Hanauma Bay (also Michelle's first time). Being winter here the sea is extremely rough and the waves very high so we couldn't go out for some more adventurous snorkeling past the reef barrier in the bay (Matthew says there are a lot more fish out there). Sunday we visited Pearl Harbor and took a navy boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial. It was a very solemn place out on the memorial that spans the sunken ship since it's the tomb of lots of the men that went down with her. Next we hiked to Manoa Falls through lots of rain and bamboo forests--finding out first hand why it is called a rainforest. We looked like we could have just gotten out of a swimming pool by halfway through the hike!

Monday we went to Sandy Beach and saw some body surfers get pounded into the sand and come out all skinned up (we didn't attempt anything there) and then went up the east side of the island to Makapu'u Head where we did a scenic hike up to the lookout and light house. On the way up to the lookout we got our first look at some humpback whales surfacing out in the great blue. They seem to be everywhere this time of year. We came in a season of rough seas, which limits snorkling posibilites but it also is the peak of whale watching season when the beasties come to the Hawaiian Islands to have babies and frolic in the water for tourists like us to gawk at. We took a detour on the way back from the lookout to hike down to the water's edge on a large lava shelf that jets out into the then extremely violent sea. There is where we found the not-so-visited "Dragon's Nostrils" which are a pair of big blowholes that roar really loud and spout water like a pair of gysers when big waves come crashing in and get to the blowholes through underwater caves. It was really cool to see up close and feel the power of the high seas and the beast down below us trying to get out.

The next morning we went to Kailua and made a long stop at a wood shop that is famous for making furniture from native Hawaiian koa wood. Their prices were a little high so we didn't buy suvies here....(US$40,000 for a Koa desk!--but it looked really cool).

Next stop was La'ie on the windward side where we spent a fun-filled day with Michelle's old roomie, Malia. We went snorkling at Shark's Cove and hit some beaches including the famous Sunset beach and the Bonzai Pipeline (which is roaring at the moment so there are tons of surfers out there every day). Snorkeling at Shark's Cove was great despite the fact that we could only hug the sides in the calmer areas and not access the middle of the cove where most of the action is...once again foiled by huge surf. We even have some cuts and bruises to show from the waves that did enter the cove where we were. Matthew got stung by something on his toe in the action.

Hale'iwa was next on the agenda where we got some of Matsumoto's famous shaved ice with vanillia ice cream in the bottom. (we went back the next day for a second round it was so good). There we broused lots of surf-oriented shops and I had to tell Michelle no about thirty times in the jewelry shops. On the way back to La'ie we stoped at Turtle Beach and watched some of the overly friendly sea turtles that frequent there. They were cool to watch and it was the first time Michelle got to meet Crush in person.

The next day we did a long hike in the Ahupu'a O Kahana State Park rain forest. We had a great time making blood donations to the local mosquito population and listining to the wild birds and enjoying the thick forest scenery. We saw lots of wild pig tracks and got cut on our feet a bit by the super sharp palm fronds that blanket the ground everywhere.

To be continued with more photos...

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Christmas in Wyoming

After a lot of driving over frozen roads we made it to Laramie, Wyoming for Christmas. The picture here is the view out of my parents kitchen window (picture courtesy of Megan Cook). We have enjoyed many beautiful sunsets through that back window. As you can see we enjoyed a white Christmas. All of the family were able to make it and stay about a week, which didn't seem long enough.

Mason, the only nephew on my side, was the highlight of the trip. He is 13 months old and keeps everybody hopping.

We are officially homeless and unemployed now. Luckily Matthew's parents have agreed to take us in for the time being.

This Christmas we are especially thankful for our family and friends. We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives.

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