Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day Five: Nothing. Simply Nothing.

Day five consisted of this ...

Annelies watched Netflix

Paradis read, did homework and watched Netflix

I knit.
Scott and Paradis snorkeled outside our condo. They said it was great.
It was a mellow day of hanging out at the condo in the sun. The sun was out all day but it was mighty windy. Beautiful day.

Day Five: Gas $0 ($9.55 total); Lodging $428.50 ($1,590.86 total); Souvenirs $0 ($15.90 total); Tourist Traps $0 ($6 total); Fights 0 (0 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) for this trip.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Day Four: Blowhole, Tide Pools, and a Night Time Hunt

We decided to avoid a 'lay in the sun and bake' day and head out in the Jeep to tour the island. We drove north along the shore and I have to say the view was gorgeous. I could have stopped at every pull-off.

Our first stop brought us to a little river leading into the ocean. The girls began their collection of goodies that will turn into what I like to call 'the bag of stench' (AKA shells and rocks). I will retrieve much of it for our Collection Jars

We drove on to the Nakalele Blowhole. Annelies called it the Hole of Patience as she couldn't stand waiting for it to blow while taking videos (she has no patience, it was really frequent).

This is my favorite sign of all times.

Annelies' first pose with the Selfie Stick. I'm thinking she has given up fighting it.
The girls love tide pools. They love all the critters and trying to capture them (on film, or hands).

The walk down was a little steep, but doable. I do not artificially exercise (e.g., run when an animal is not chasing me or ride a bike while not moving an inch), but whenever we do things like this I realize I am in better shape than most because ... I made it. Hawaiian Tip: Water shoes are a must. We used them while hiking up and down the hills so we wouldn't have to haul our hiking shoes and they were fabulous (all for $5 on winter clearance in Minnesota!). The shore is very rough, not sandy, so they are fabulous for walking in the water.

Yes, Annelies is up on that rock.
We continued north and stopped at Olivine Pools. I love how I make my kids pose near these signs as we walk past them ("Don't Go Beyond This Point).

The Olivine Pools were large tide pools that held water. Very deep, in fact the girls could not get to the bottom. 

We are giggling here because it took me no effort to float while Annelies couldn't stay up despite her constant treading (remember fat floats). 

We spent several hours at Olivine. The girls snorkeled (I had to put my camera away after a huge wave came over the cliff - thankfully a very kind gentleman recovered it). The girls spent hours jumping off the edge. Yes, we do not follow warning signage. 

It was a fabulous day. We went back to the hotel, showered, ate dinner (Scott made a nice red sauce for our pasta with Portuguese sausage) and I did seven loads of laundry (we have two one-bedroom units and therefore two washing machines - LOVE it for all the towels and salty clothes). Around 7:30pm we went to the beach just outside our condo and did some hunting for coral. It always washes up nicely at night.

Again, we were in bed at 8:30pm. Not sure how late the girls stayed up but I'm confident I was sleeping in five minutes. It was a fabulous day!

Day Four: Gas $0 ($9.55 total); Lodging $428.50 ($1,162.36 total); Souvenirs $0 ($15.90 total); Tourist Traps $0 ($6 total); Fights 0 (0 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) for this trip.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day Three: Rough Start, Selfie Stick and Maui Wowee

We are not a morning family. Well, Scott is but he doesn't really count since one calm man can never overcome three crabby girls. We planned to leave the hotel at 6:30am, but a misplaced cosmetic, the fact I forgot to add a gas station stop to the agenda, and a missed exit lead to a little tension in the Vandeputte Crew. I gave my standard 'traveling in tight quarters with four people for two weeks is never easy, but we can either chose to move on and enjoy the remaining time we have left or hold a grudge and miss out on a lot of fun' talk thankfully did the trick. By 7:25am our bellies were full, we were sitting at our gate waiting for our flight, and everyone was making fun of my new Selfie Stick. Or really, of me. Everything was back to normal.

We flew from Honolulu to Kahului, Maui in 45 minutes via my new favorite airline, Hawaiian Air. Talk about organized. They had self check-in, and I'm talking the whole thing. You print and attach your own baggage label and drop it off. The process was so slick. Lovely. 

We picked up our Jeep and went to Walmart to pick up some groceries. We also picked up boogie boards and snorkel supplies; we find the cost is less than renting and it gives us flexibility (and we hope to take them home). We love the complete open top of a two door Jeep, but decided last minute to upgrade to a four-door. While leaving with two full carts, we are thankful we did!

While driving to Ka'anapali we saw a man walking along the highway playing a ukele. No lie. It was surreal. It took about 45 minutes to drive to the east side of the island, and it was a beautiful drive. We arrived at our hotel, where the hotel held our groceries (in a fridge, sweet) and luggage until our room was ready. We went to the pool and did our thing. The girls and Scott sat in the sun and swam.
I wrote my blog and made a new friend (a pool boy, who I would love to tell my girlfriends was as hot as they are imagining right now but I'm sorry to disapoint, however he taught me a lot about the local culture and life as a local in Maui). At 4:00 our room was ready and we moved into an ocean front room. Amazing. 

A little about our condo: We are staying at Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas. Prior to 'Driving the Dream' we spent our first five Spring Breaks in Daytona Florida at a condo. We loved it. We loved having a full kitchen, seperate bedrooms, two baths and the beach and pools a short walk away. However, condos in Hawaii are expensive. Seriously, expensive. So I searched on VRBO for hours on end and sent hundreds of messages. I was able to secure this condo for only $3,000 for seven nights. That is an absolute steal (valued at $6,000 for our two bedroom). Scott and I do not believe in the condo-buying-experience because the market is so saturated with owners that don't use them, if you take the time to research and send messages (and yes it is time-sucking) you can usually find an owner that will rent their unit for the cost of their annual maintenance fees. 

We checked in our room and unpacked our bags and groceries. I like to completely rearrange the unit. I put things up high that we will never use (e.g., potato masher) and pull out the things we will use. Here is me celebrating the blender. This will get used. A lot.

We will make most of our own meals. It does cut down on costs, but what we really enjoy is simply eating the way we do at home. We call it 'keeping our insides happy'. We find if we eat too much (which is what we often do while eating out) or don't eat on a regular basis (I'm a small frequent meal gal) our insides are not happy and it makes for a miserable vacation. Don't mistake this strategy for eating healthy. We eat what we enjoy (we bought 7 bags of chips, along with lots of candy and cookies). My new Pool Boy friend gave me a serving tray to use for the week which will come in handy when we bring meals to the pool (score!).

Our first meal was nachos. Along with Mai Tais and Pina Coladas. 

We ended the night with a drive to our local grocery store for produce (Walmart has none), back to our room for tacos, and we all were in bed at 8:00pm. We may be adjusting to the time change, but we were all ready to hit the hay. The girls and Scott got a little sunburned, despite the loads of sunscreen, but we will work on that tomorow. It was a great first day in Maui.

For all my 'statistic' fans, I will be working on posting those today. The spreadsheet is somewhat current, I just need to get them entered in the blog. Aloha!

Day Three: Gas $0 ($9.55 total); Lodging $428.50 ($733.86 total); Souvenirs $0 ($15.90 total); Tourist Traps $0 ($6 total); Fights 0 (0 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) for this trip.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day Two: Pearl Harbor, Chinatown, the Beach and a Selfie Stick

Day two started at 1:45am for me. The time change is five (5) hours, and as I laid with my eyes wide open I thought "Why not just get up, it is really 6:45?". So I showered and walked to the 24 hour diner. During my 15 minute walk, at 2:30am, I quickly realized I wasn't the only girl on the street. But I clearly was the only one wearing underwear, flat shoes, and carrying a Thirty-One bag filled with knitting!

I returned to the room after a lovely breakfast and woke up my crew. We left around 6:30am to the same diner for breakfast and then to Pearl Harbor. We had tickets reserved for 8:00am. Hawaii Tip: Reserve your Pearl Harbor tickets in advance. 

I've been trying to figure out what to write about Pearl Harbor. It is a wonderful memorial honoring all the lives lost that day, and I've been wanting to come here for years. The Park Service has done a great job telling the history. The boat ride to the Arizona is very moving. To stand over that ship, which entombs the soldiers that went down with it and still weeps oil from nearly 75 years ago, is simply beautiful. Just beautiful. We learned a lot and enjoyed the exhibits.

We spent the morning at Pearl Harbor and on our way back to our hotel we stopped at Chinatown. We thought it would make a good lunch stop, and it did. We experienced some new foods (I couldn't do the pig snout) and shopped.

I have said this before, but the four of us belong on the beach. This afternoon we found ourselves back at home, on Waikiki Beach. Paradis instantly takes to the water, Annelies starts in the water and ends up in the sand (sometimes literally), Scott roams around, and I comfortably carve my tush into the sand, and rest. Okay, sometimes I knit. I wish every state was surrounded by beach. 

After exposing our freakishly white bodies to the sun and sand we showered and went to dinner at Bohu. They had fresh Mexican cuisine that was absolutely fabulous (and I'm confident the margaritas did not influence my opinion). Both girls like to order drinks; Paradis likes Mai Tais and Annelies enjoys Pina Coladas. They don't ask for virgin, because we assume it is just ... assumed. At Bohu the waiter asked for Paradis' ID. I think we have moved on to a new phase in life.

On our walk home (read the quote wall for good laugh) I bought a selfie stick. I know these are mainly used by teenagers, but I tell you I love this thing. Love, love, love it. It is like a tripod for your phone. The girls hate it. They are so embarrassed they said they will never pose for it (I've always been proud of my girls for not following teenage norms, but I'm not feeling that way now). Watch for some awesome photos!
We ended the evening getting packed. We will head to the airport at 6:30am to board a flight to Maui where will stay for a full week. We are all looking forward to the beach, and some simple relaxing. It was a great first full day in Hawaii. 

Day Two: $9.55 gas ($9.55 total); $152.68 Lodging ($305.36 total); $15.90 Souvenirs ($15.90 total); $6 Tourist Traps ($6 total); 0 fights (0 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) for this trip.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day One: Off to Paradise

Aloha `auinala!

I am sitting on a plane going straight to the land of paradise ... Hawaii. This will be our 42nd state. It isn't often we visit one state during an entire trip. We will be there one day short of two weeks. We will visit three islands; Oahu, Maui and Big Island. Our goal: Enjoy the beauty, enjoy one another, and not burn our freakishly white bodies.

While in grade school Paradis' nickname was Hawaii (people mistake her name for Paradise). She hoped to make Hawaii her last state her senior year, but once we learned Yellowstone closes one month a year, exactly during our spring break, plans changed.

Click here to view our map. We won't visit every pin on the map, but it will give you an idea of our plans. A couple days on Oahu, a full week in Maui, and a couple days on the Big Island. I want to thank everyone that helped me plan this adventure (Jan and Todd - the honeymooners, Tom and Jodi, and my new friend Kris - the Hawaiian expert). Our family hasn't taken a 'normal one-stop vacation' since starting Driving the Dream and these friends were so helpful. I'll leave you with this photo showing the girls in freakin' first class.

Yes, first class all the way to Hawaii baby ... for FREE! Yes, you read that right, we are flying using our miles. I'm not sharing merely to brag (although it will be 19 hours of total bliss) but to encourage all of you to get a US Bank VISA card today. Seriously. If you travel (or wish you could), start using your buying power to get some free flights. We have had this card for five years, have received 14 free flights, for a total savings of $10,233.97. Amazing. (I've always wanted to add up our savings because I'm weird like that)
  • Paradis to San Francisco (June, 2012): $385.60
  • Annelies to Wichita (August, 2012): $301.60
  • Scott and Rae Ann to Cancun (November, 2012): $971.52
  • All four or us to Las Vegas (March 20, 2013): $1,353.60
  • Rae Ann to Squam (June, 2013): $318.60
  • Scott and Rae Ann to Cancun (January, 2014): $1,104.74
  • Three of us to Hawaii - one via Delta miles (March, 2015): $5,798.31 ($1,932.77/ticket)
Click here to sign up for the US Bank Travel Rewards Card. Yes, I'm hoping you will add my FlexPoints number (222199685462) as a referral to thank me for sharing this ... but seriously, I just think you should get one. Or call 800-360-2900

For those smarty pants trying to calculate how much we spend on our VISA giving us enough points to earn $10,000+ worth of free tickets. Don't do it. We have one credit card. We use it as often as we can (and for my non-consumer friends, we pay it off monthly). 

~ A hui hou kakou

Day One: $0 gas ($0 total); $152.68 Lodging ($152.68 total); $0 Souvenirs ($0 total); $0 Tourist Traps ($0 total); 0 fights (0 total). || Airfare for entire trip: $8,470.08 (of which $7,228.08 was free, using miles). Car Rental for entire trip: $469.76. Note: I'm not tracking driving miles, Redbox rentals or states (2 total) for this trip.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Small World

We are two weeks away from our trip to Hawaii. Scott and I have spent (once again) endless hours planning. I pulled out the suitcases and assessed our summer wardrobe. I fear for the people that have to see the glare from our 'Minnesota-White Bodies'.

This will be our 42nd state. After Hawaii we will take only two more trips to complete the remaining seven states. It feels like we just started this adventure and yet I realize it has been almost ten years. Wow.

Many of you know I knit. A lot. I belong to an online knitting group (my husband likes to call it a cult) called Ravelry. Last month I received a message, via Ravelry, from a knitter named FortuneCookie.

She says, "Hello, You have no idea what an inspiration you are to me… And that was BEFORE I knew you were a knitter, too! I follow your blog, and love your stories about your trips. ... Thank you for sharing your adventurers!" It was so fun to receive her message. It is so rewarding to know I have inspired just one other person. There are very few comments written on my blog, so I never knew a complete stranger was following it. Well, FortuneCookie is no longer a stranger.

As you can read in my very first post, dated August 18, 2009, I created this blog to document our adventure so my kids and I could look back on it at a later date. I'll admit, when I need a little boost in my life I open up www.DrivingTheDream.com and simply read. I just love the stories we have collected on our adventures. 

The purpose for this post is to say hello to all the other 'strangers' out there following Driving The Dream. I hope I can inspire you as well to get out and travel. To visit somewhere you have never been. To expose your kids to this beautiful country. I'll be back in the blogging world in less than two weeks ... and I can't wait!!