Last full day in Waikiki

Friday September 23, 2011

Today was a designated “slow start” day, and had me trying to catchup with the blog, though not a bad office to do it from.

Tegan and Chelsea headed down on the lilos for a play in the lagoon.



Julie and Chris came over to look at the photos and catchup on some email and facebook, as they didn’t have any access from their place.  I posted up some pictures on facebook and tagged them between the wedding and the luau yesterday, so their family and friends had a chance to comment on them.

We hit the beach for 2 hours, and even though my ribs are pretty sore, it is so much fun to be surfing with Ryan, and I think he is hooked.  I also took Tegan out on the same board, but it was a little difficult on a board a little too small for us, but we still had some fun!

Ryan out the back

Staf coming past

Tegan having a paddle

I dropped back our car, and called in on a ukulele shop, where I was soon parted with my money.  This was the souvenir I wanted from Hawaii, and will hang out with the rest of the guitars at home.

Which one is coming home?

New family member

Sue and Tegan hit the shops, whilst the boys hung out at the unit and watched the surfers and the view.  We headed down to watch our final Waikiki sunset, and everyone headed back to ours for some pizza dial in carbs.

Checking out the sunset

Tegan and Ryan at Sunset

Sue and I at Sunset

Pizza from Round table c/- recommendation from Michele, a work mate of Sue’s 

Wedding Day

Thursday September 22, 2011

Well the main day had arrived, Julie and Chris’s wedding.  Their wedding had been the catalyst for our trip to Hawaii and the onward journey.  A nervous Chris arrived at our door, with his wedding outfit  in hand.  The girls went to get their faces on, whilst the 4 boys went surfing for 2 hours.  The surfing was so much fun, and great way to get rid of some of Chris’s nervous energy.

Get Ready  –  All boys showered and on time for deaprture

Get Set – Car brought up by valets, have rough idea where we are heading, cold drinks for those not driving, so none for me.

Get Lost – We ended up overshooting the beach venue by 10 miles!!!

We have 10 minutes to get there and I swing into a service station and ask staf to get directions.  He comes back with a printout that they had at the ready… Seems we are not the first people to have trouble looking for the venue.  We make “very good time” and arrive and park next to the limo though no sign of the girls. We since found out, they were behind the very dark tinted windows.  Thankfully the limo driver says photographer and celebrant not arrived as yet, so at least we aren’t the last to arrive!

It was a lovely wedding service, and I ended up shooting 400+ shots for Chris and Julie.  They did have a professional photographer and videographer, but it was nice to show them some of the photos nice and quickly.

Exchanging of sand as part of the ceremony

The married kiss

Even the groom had his accessories

The three sisters

My bride and Candice

Me with the tin lids

So more photos taking at the beach of the couple, then Ryan and I back in convertible, all others back in the limo with beverages.  A quick change then off to the Luau, which was the designated wedding reception for us, and put on by Julie and Chris with a deluxe package at Paradise Cove.


Wheels on the bus go …

Newly weds on the bus

We were greeted with Mai Tais and shown to our stage front seats.


The girls with real and fake Mai Tais

We then had some time to participate in the some activities on offer, we had a go at:

Canoe riding

Spear throwing

Making head bands for the girls

Fake tribal tattoos

Our family in the canoes 


Candice getting fake tribal tattoo on her back,

Some of us caught the sunset, before heading to the welcoming ceremony where we were entertained with more great Hawaiian music and Hula dancing.

Ryan and I as the sun sets

Check out the sky!

After the opening of the pit and unveiling of the pig, we headed to our seats for the start of the show.

The shows incorporated all of the polynesian cultures, so were were greated with a NZ Haka, which was a bit unnerving during the Rugby World Cup!

All of the shows were fantastic, but the highlight was definitely the Somaoan fire dancer.

A call for volunteers to do the Hula dance onstage went out, and Julie was straight up there.

The meal was delicious, as were the included drinks, and we headed back towards the bus hoping to not have a repeat of our 1.5 hours it took to get there.

With the bus crowd, somewhat “loosened”, our bus host has us playing games with other buses, where as we would pass, we would do:

flash our cameras at them

do the Robot dance

do the YMCA

and many others.

This made the time go by fast, as well as it only taking half the time as well.

Our family plus Chelsea heading back to our digs for some rest, and ready for our last full day.

Dukes Brekky, Surfing and Sunset cocktails

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Feeling much better after a long sleep, so our family of 4 decided to head to Duke’s for Breakfast.  It was a lovely morning and the buffet breakfast had a fantastic choice.

We got our fuel onboard and decided to cruise the shops for a bit, and bought a few things.  Whilst out, we found where the restaurant and bar, “House without a key” was, and made plans to head there to watch the sunset with a cocktail in the late afternoon.

Ryan and I headed down for some surfing lessons, and there 1 hour lesson was very generous as it moved past the 90 minute mark.  It was also a bonus that we had a group lesson, but with just the two of us in it, with instructor Oki.  The girls had a swim and laze at the beach and could see us in our lesson.

Tegan lazing at the beach

and in the water




Can just make out Instructor, Ryan and Sean middle of shot

Ryan started off slow, but quickly was getting better rides than his Dad.  Dad wasn’t used to the longboard, at least that was his excuse.


Ryan looking confident

Dad not so as evasive manoeuvre attempt is made

We quickly decided to have a surfing session every day for the remainder of our time.

We showered up, had some lunch, then why not do some more shopping?  We dumped our shopping and headed to House without a Key.  We arrived around 4:30, and got a fantastic table as there wasn’t many people there.  This soon changed and I was glad we erred on the side of caution.

Seats were plentiful when we arrived

Very yummy Mai Tais



We had some wonderful cocktails, and were joined by Julie, Chris and Chelsea as the band started playing.We were then entertained by a hula dancer, as we watched the sun set over the water.

The band serenades

The Hula Dancing was wonderful as the sun set

 View to Diamond Head from HWAK

Sunset draws the people out

Chris & Julie wanted to call it an early night with their wedding the following day, so we got in contact with Candice and Staf, who weren’t keen to leave their pool to join us earlier, and they had just gotten their beeper from the Cheesecake factory.

After the regulation 1 hour wait, we were seated, and we were handed the largest menu I have ever seen.  22 pages of items, and about another 12 of pictures and information.  We were warned the the portions were large, and they were!  The cheesecake was very good, with Sue and I sharing a white chocolate, macadamia and caramel slice.

We passed by the Duke statue on our way home

Golf, Shopping and hitting the wall

Tuesday September 20, 2011

Today’s plan is for the boys to go in one direction – Golf, and the girls to head in another direction – Shopping.

During our trip to the North Shore on the previous day, I had a cold that seemed to get worse as the day went on, and during the night I developed a fever and felt pretty bad.  I grabbed some cold tablets early morning and hoped chemistry and praying would stave off the cold, especially as I didn’t want to pull the pin on the golf game.

Whether it was the placebo effect or the Acetaminophen, my tablets seem to be making a difference, so I would head out for the golf.  We could only arrange a 1:17PM tee time, but an earlier email (a fe months back) said you can come down and get on the standby list, so that is what we decided to to.

We walked over to the Ala Wai course, whilst the girls got themselves ready to head to the Alo Moana shopping centre.

Shot of the course from their website

The boys put their name on the list and were told we would have time to get our hire gear when we were called up. We sat and waited and after waiting for a just a bit, we were approached by a casual”eddie would go” muscle shirt wearing local, who just started having a general chat, and then said, did we want to sort out our club hire.  Seems this was our pro shop dude.

He was wonderfully friendly and giving us discounts on balls / tees and the like.  As we were chatting more, he used to be on the surfing pro tour in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

We were then called up as our place was ready!  We later found out that this course was either the busiest in the USA of the world, depending on the reliability of the 2 local golfers.  To tee off, your buggies start in the “hold”, then you are on “deck”, then on the tee.

Our buggies in the hold

On deck


Names are announced for each of these three, for each group teeing off to ensure that the course moves smoothly…  Although, allowing groups of 6 to play seems to defeat the purpose, and yes we had a group of 6 in front of us.

Chris looking confident 

Ryan and I shared one buggy, with Chris and Staf in the other.  Chris was nice enough to undo the holding strap on my clubs, so when I first took off in the buggy, off the back my clubs went.  I was trying to work out what had happened, whilst being embarrassed in front of the other holding area crew, when Chris owned up.


Nice setting



Ryan in action


The buck in action



We had a nice round, but by hole 13 I was flagging, and didn’t think I could see out the 18, and let the guys know.  Ryan was having a good time so I just took it very easy and saw out the round.  Staf took out the honours for the golf.

Staf’s style

It was a struggle for me to walk back and I let the guys know I would be resting for the remainder of the day.

The girls got back around the same time to drop off their shopping, then they headed to Dukes for a few drinks.

Evidence Sue has arrived back from shopping

Sue took this shot of Candice and Tegan at Veronica’s Secret

I was rested for the remainder of the afternoon whilst the rest of the family watched the Hula and sunset show.

North Shore drive

Monday September 19, 2011

We were awoken at 5:00 by tour company (from yesterday) wanting to change the dropping off Staf’s bag left on the bus.  We were in a margarita induced coma, and it took a bit for the strange ringing sound to compute…

I decided I needed to expel the evil green liquid from my pores, so I went for a run, and to take in the sites.  It was a struggle, but I was glad for it as it did the intended job of sweating, clearing the head, and punishing myself not to be seduced by cheap margaritas again.

Today was the day that we had hired a convertible and were heading to the North Shore.  We arrived at our hire car office via the courtesy bus, and after giving our reservation number, we were told “your rental is for next week”.  Oh man…  So do you have a car we could rent?  Only a compact, at a big price…  Ok, we need to think about this…

So there was a McDonalds next door, with free wifi.  There was also another rental company there, but the line was massive.  I got to work on my iphone to see if there was a rental available online through them.  I found a convertible was available and booked it for 10 minutes time.  Result!

We went through the booking process at the counter, and heading downstairs to get our car.  No car available… Hmmm.  They said they were trying to find one, and after 30 minutes a car turned up.  The attendant was very apologetic and friendly and gave us a day off our rental and a later bring back time which was a softening to the increased price we paid from my original booking 3 months ago.

Meanwhile, Sue was busily txt’ing her sister Candice as they has also rented a car, and we were travelling with.  We made a rendezvous point and tentatively left the parking garage to meet up with Staf, Candice and Chelsea (Chris and Julie off with wedding planner and enjoy the last breath of single life together)

Candice and Staf’s blue car, ours in the background

Our car

We stopped off for a swim on the west coast.

To the North Shore!

Best iphone app investment yet, Co-Pilot USA

I grew up fantasising about Sunset Beach, Pipeline and Waimea Bay, so it was great to tick it off the life list.

Sunset Beach

Tegan and Chelsea at Sunset Beach


Dad sneaks an elusive last second hug as the shutter clicks

The girls heading to the water at Waimea Bay

Pano of Waimea Bay, no swell what so ever!

Whilst at the North shore, we wanted to try the stables of a shrimp van lunch and some shaved ice, and both didn’t disappoint!

Our shrimp van of choice

We had either all shrimp pictures here, or the steak and shrimp.

I think we were all relieved that all had the very garlicky delicacies, as they were very strong! It was then on to the shaved ice, and we managed to find the highly rated Matsumoto’s shaved ice.

There were people everywhere, I am guessing a good lonely planet rating helps out.

Enjoying the shaved ice.

We headed off and got in around 7:00 PM, for a quick tidy up, then off to Dukes for 8:30 dinner, which was very nice.  We will sleep very well tonight!

Pearl Harbor

Sunday 18 September, 2011

Ok, so posting the last 4 or 5 days way late, it has been non-stop, but lots of fun!

Today we headed off on a Pearl Harbor tour, which the bride organised very well for all 9 of us. We were picked up early close to our hotel, after some nervousness over where exactly we were to be picked up, we were off.  Some very informative commentary on the way about local customs, the school wherre Barrack Obama went, and the build up to the attack on Peral Harbor.  Sean was spending time figuring out, ok, this is some great info, he is going to want a tip, how much is reasonable again…

On the bus

I won’t go into the details of the various exhibits at Pearl Harbor, but it is a very impressive display and memorial of a very significant event, 70 years ago.  It is great that they were able to secure the Battleship Missouri, so as to mark the book ends of the war that the USA entered.  There is a memorial above the Arizona, where so many men lost their lives, and when the war began for the USA, and the Missouri is where Japan signed the surrender documents.

After arriving, and checking in any bags larger than a wallet, we headed to the movie theatre to get the background to the attack.

Chelsea and Tegan in the theatre (hopefully about to be quiet)

We then headed out on a launch to the Arizona memorial.

It was a sobering experience to see all the people who had lost their lives, and at such a young age.  Some people were brought to tears in this room.

The names of the fallen

Tegan and Chelsea at the memorial

Some of the Arizona is above the water level

Approximately 8.5 litres of oil still surfaces from the ship each day

Candice and Staf taking in the memorial

USS Missouri from the Arizona memorial

  We then headed back to the main park area, had a look around the rest of the sites (and shops) and jumped on the bus to head to the Missouri.

Heading towards the Missouri

The guns were huge, I think I heard this was where “that” Cher film clip was dine, but I wanted to erase that fact from my memory

Some of our crew

After the tour, we headed to our apartment where we all enjoyed a few drinks, some snacks and the view.  We made some rough plans for dinner, knowing a table for 9 at late notice maybe a stretch. Tegan and I headed to the lagoon for a swim, which was a refreshing end to the day.

We ended up finding an ok place for us to all eat, and the margaritas were very tasty, very large, and ver cheap.  It may make for an slower start to the day tomorrow…

Staf and Candice enjoying the margaritas

Our second Saturday (in 2 days)

Saturday September 17, 2011

We were coasting into Honolulu, after some fitful sleeping overnight, Ryan only got an hour or so…

Sunrise out the window of the Deathstar

Mark from Hawaii23 was there to greet us in the pickup area, and was very helpful with information, including even though he is a local, sometimes he doesn’t get tipping…  He mentioned a “Block Party” that was on in the evening, which sounded like a great plan.  We also had heard about the ABC stores in our research, but they were everywhere!  Mark joked that ABC stood for “All Blocks Covered” and he wasn’t wrong.  ABC stores carry a lot of stuff, from souvenirs, snacks, bread, milk, alcohol,  floating lilo’s (for an extra 60 cents they will blow them up) as well as the novelty items you don’t see in stores at home.

Some of the ABC fare

We dropped Candice off at her Hyatt digs, and headed for ours nearby, the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower.  We got to the hotel around 8:30 AM and was told our room would be ready around 3:00.  We made use of the change rooms to get out of jeans and into beach gear, and decided to make a plan before killing 6 hours, running on little sleep.  I decided to go back and ask if there was another room available, and whether we could upgrade.  After a frenzy of key tapping, there was one available, but for an extra $90 per night, and on the highest level before the penthouses.  I said I better check with the SHE-EO.  Sue and I discussed, and for 7 nights, it was a little too expensive for us, so I went back, thanked them for their trouble and started to head off.  “How much ISN’T too expensive” came the call as I was heading off.  “Oh, I don’t know, what do you think is reasonable”  So we ended up with a good rate, and could check in now.  Result!

We managed to get an apartment on the 38th floor, looking over the ocean, towards Diamond head and looking inland towards the mountains.  The view was stunning, and the apartment well appointed with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, lounge, dining and a big balcony.  I will post a tour of apartment in a later post.

Views from our balcony

We headed out to grab some breakfast and have a look around.  We decided it best if we all grab some rest, so we bunkered down for a bit.

I got up after a couple of hours and decided I should go to the Ala Moana shopping centre to grab some clothes, and I didn’t bring much at all.  It was an epic bus trip each way (took an hour each way because of traffic) but I got a couple of things in quick time.  The shopping centre was massive, and you could spend a lot of time there, which I am sure Sue will 🙂

When I got back, the block party was getting started, and we all headed out for a few hours to look at the stalls, grab some food and enjoy the ambience.

Block party from our apartment.

It was packed, especially near the various live music

Some of the food stalls had lines 30 metres long!

We all started to flag, so we headed back to our various apartments to get some sleep before our Peral Harbour tour in the morning.

Day 1 of Family Holiday – on our way

Saturday September 17, 2011

Well we have finally reached our departure date, with the excitement levels at around 11…

We attended to the last minute tasks, finalising packing, checking no kids are left behind, and thanking Karen and Katrina for grabbing our mail, and keeping an eye on the joint.

We thought about our lab Charlie, who was dropped off at her holiday kennels the day before, and the antics that Tegan and her got up to when saying goodbye.

We packed all of our list(s), and then some, but we had made allowances for the shopping we would be bringing back.  In fact we had made a “bagducken”, like a turducken, only we had a collapsable bag, inside a smaller suitcase, inside a large suitcase, which pretty much travelled empty.

Our luggage sans Ryan’s backpack

Sean’s camera bag (not showing land stand, umbrella, tripod…)

One thing in our planning, well let’s face it, I missed it, was the Wallabies game versus Ireland being on whilst we are in the air.  Kindly Scott has agreed to txt it through, so I will get the news after we land.  Yes, I know I could just look it up, but I am way scared of the (potentially urban myth) high charges that I may experience, so I have turned off global roaming.

So taxi arrives early, and we are on our way to the airport.

We head into the lounge and make ourselves comfortable whilst waiting for our second leg of our journey to Sydney.

Tegan making a sandwich, with apple juice (Adults had grape juice and hops juice)

Keeping a travel journal

We arrive in Sydney and jump on the transit bus to the international terminal.

That’s our plane (Sue remarked how small that one was)

We head off to check in to Jetstar (Death star – though I was quickly stopped in my tracks with my stories of this airline before we took off).  Sue’s sister, Candice was a few places in front of us in the checkin queue, so the sisters caught up whilst the customer service experience allowed us all to reminisce for a long, long, time.

Finally the front of the line.

I have access to the Qantas lounge, even tough we are on Deathstar,  that I can take one guest (and our kids).  So with Candice with us, I was thinking how do we do this…  Resigned to timesharing the lounge access (with Rugby on the tv) we headed off as a plan came together.  Plan A was to appeal to having the sisters together in the lounge with the rest of the family, then Plan B emerged.  “You guys stay back here” as the size of the lobby presented itself.  I headed over, handed over the boarding cards, and starting to ask about “Peter’s” day, start or end of the shift, busy / slow, and we were in.

Catching up with tripadvisor with Sydney skyline in the background

We got our call, and it was wheels up, and then we do Saturday again…

Hump Day Holiday planning

Wednesday September 7, 2011

I had the luxury of spending some time researching some of our destinations that we are heading to in 10 days time.  That’s right, 10 sleeps!  We are starting to get a little excited here…

So our itinerary is:

Waikiki   17/9    –    24/9

San Francisco   24/9  –  29/9

Coastal Drive   29/9  –  2/10

Disneyland  2/10  – 5/10

I have been reading through our lonely planet guides

Street view on google maps has been fantastic to get a sense of the places we are visiting. The statue of Duke is close to where we are staying.

And reading online forums such as Trip Advisor has been invaluable to find out answers to the many questions we had.  It is at this forum that I found the blog posting of Sydney Shop Girl, whose blog I find it hard not to go to for my first reading of the day.

We went to Disneyland in December 2009, and it has certainly had an impact on the kids. I recently bought a book for Tegan on the Hidden Mickeys of DL, and she is looking at building up a score sheet for us all to see how we go.

I love this photo of Tegan from our last trip, she just looks in awe of her surroundings.

Tegan in awe at Disneyland

Today’s song of the day seems very apt, being an Aussie band (who have since changed their name to Howling Bells)  Waikiki – Here comes September

10 sleeps, can’t wait!