First, we flew to Honolulu, where we got to stay with our awesome buddy, Molly.
She showed us all kinds of cool stuff. We got to hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater (as in volcano!) and saw the whole city and Waikiki Beach.
We got to see where over a thousand heroes still rest...
It's hard not to get a tear in your eye when you stand there and realize what the memorial truly means. Most of them were younger than my brother.
I stood on the memorial, looked up, and this is what I saw:
Then, we flew to Maui. On Christmas Eve, we went up 11,000 feet, above the clouds at Mount Haleakala, to watch the most amazing sunrise I've ever seen....
It was pretty chilly, but not as cold as everyone makes it out to be! I guess we're used to it, though.
Then, we got to ride mountain bikes 38 miles DOWNHILL...we saw some amazing views and by the time we got down it was very warm! I felt like such a tool as roadies climbed UP the mountain, while me and my rented mountain bike hauled down.... :) I decided someone needs to put an Ironman course on it...but shuttle you back up to the top and get all 112 miles downhill. Now THAT would be the only way I could break 11 hours in an Ironman... :)
When we drove back to our hotel, we stopped at this beach to watch the hardcore surfers. If you look really close, you can see tons of 'em. I couldn't WAIT to get my turn!
This just made me laugh WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY too hard. Outside a swanky resort, on Christmas Day...
We got to see some humpback whales from a distance, which was amazing...
On the Hana Highway, we stopped here for some banana bread...mmmm....
Everywhere we turned on the Highway to Hana, it seemed there was another beautiful waterfall!
The views were unbelievable. We had a red Jeep Wrangler so it was a fun drive!
We stopped here for lunch. The black rock was awesome.
We found a black sand beach! The contrast of colors was like nothing I've ever seen before.
We made it all the way to the O'heo (sp?) Gulch, which is otherwise known as the "Seven Sacred Pools," and we jumped in!
It's hard to NOT relax when all you see are things like this:
Finally, we got to meet up in Lahaina, an old whaling town, with my friend Vicki, her husband Jeff, and her little guy Aidan, who just happened to be vacationing there the same time we were!
And we got to do some surfing, which I can't wait to do again:
Woo hoo~that's me, standing up, with some help from some surfer dude!
Now, here's me on my VERY FIRST WAVE ALL BY MYSELF so you're NOT ALLOWED TO LAUGH TOO HARD...
Okay, you can stop laughing now. Seriously. It's not bad for my first one ever, right? Right?! Come on! Cut me some slack, I'm from Ohio!
Definitely....the trip of a LIFETIME. Soooooooo far away from everything, though....it's strange to think that it's 2,500 miles away from CALIFORNIA, let alone from Cleveland! I knew it was far, but I guess I never realized just HOW far until I was on that plane ride and saw nothing but water for four hours.
So I'll leave you with this, your moment of Zen..... :)