DisneyWorld 2013

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Saturday December 14th in the early crack of the morning – we woke the Jayme up. It was 4:00am in the morning and Anthony woke Jayme telling him he had just heard Santa on the roof and that saw elves in the front yard.

Jayme woke up and rushed downstairs threw open the front door and there was a Mickey Mouse bag. He opened the bag and found airline tickets for a trip to Disney World, with our flight in just 2 hours.

Jayme was over the moon. Ever since school started back up he has been begging us for a vacation “I didn’t get a summer vacation because I was at day care!” But little did he know that we had been planing a Christmas Disney trip since the middle of summer.

With all our bags packed the night before while Jayme slept we all dressed and headed to the airport. Due to the much cheaper airfare, we were flying Southwest airlines and skipping our normal Delta. Anthony ended up with an A59 ticket and Joshua and Jayme B1 & B2, so we had no problems getting a full row for the three of us. Our flight was via Kansas City Missouri, a very very weird airport. We felt trapped in the cramped gates. It made us all a bit grouchy. It was not the best way to start a vacation.

Our flight got in a bit late which caused us to make a rushed dash for our resort, we had dinner plans at our favorite spot, the Raglan Road. But we feared we would miss the reservation because of our late flight. After we checked in we stopped at the concierge desk  and they were able to push back our dining reservation allowing us to take our time and take the slow boat down to the restaurant.

We rushed in and were a bit worried that since we moved our reservation we would be eating by the bathroom, but instead they placed us right in front of the stage. Minutes after we ordered our food, the stage show began. It was an amazing show and the food was great as always. A weird moment came at the end of the evening when the check came and there was no tip line. Some weird policy when using the Disney dining plan, it would not let the waiter ask for a tip, so we found a way around that. We ordered a coffee and it’s bill had a tip line… we always tip our wait staff!

The next morning we headed over to EPCOT. This trip we had the new Magic Bands, it lets you pick your attraction fast-passes in advance. So we never were in a rush to get anywhere. Like our last visit in December, the weather was cooler then we had hoped for. But as the week progressed it got warmer and warmer.

But it was the next day, Monday, when the trip turned a bit GREEN. We had a wonderful day in the Magic Kingdom park, we got front row seats for the Main Street electrical parade and then headed over for a late night snack. Joshua ordered a large tray of fried unhealthy park food. Chili fries, brownie for Jayme and drinks for all of us. But it wasn’t until we were on the bus headed back to the resort when Anthony felt the first gurgle in his stomach. We all headed to bed but less then an hour later Anthony was in the bathroom, exploding from both ends with nastiness. Getting very little sleep, Anthony skipped the next morning in Animal Kingdom and Joshua and Jayme headed out for a fun day of rides and adventures.

But that evening was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and after missing a whole day, Anthony forced himself to make it through the party, there was no way he was going to miss the party and ruin it for Jayme. We have never gone so slow in a park before. But Jayme had a wonderful time.

The next day Anthony was much improved and all three of us headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Learning our lesson from last time (and spending half a day with nothing to do in the park) we slept in and skipped rope drop and go the park mid morning. The park just does not have enough stuff to keep us entertained for a full long day.

We used our Fasspass plus for Toy Story Mania, and then had a nice lunch at the Brown Derby. Lunch was ok, the service was pretty bad. Seems Carthay Circle in Disneyland has spoiled us.

We used our Fasspass plus again for front row seating for Jayme’s favorite show Fantasmic. Not sure if the Fasspass was worth it. But Jayme loved the show and was thrilled to be so close to the action. We did get a bit wet from the spray, but a few minutes after the show we were all dry.

Stage two of our run in with what we thought was food poisoning came later that night, Jayme awoke and threw up all over his Riverside Disney matching bedding. Which was later followed by matching explosions from the other end. He had a very rough night.

We let Jayme sleep in very late and when he woke he said he felt all better. Jayme rebounds from illness very very fast, unlike Anthony who is a walking hypochondriac. So by early evening Jayme was up and his color was good again and he said he felt better. So we headed to EPCOT and to dinner at the Via Napoli Pizzaeria. Jayme ate quite a bit a of food, it was kinda of a weird meal. With every bite a dad would ask him if he was doing ok. But in the end he ate more food then the two of us.  But the food was good and the service was great. After dinner we watched the fireworks and called it a night not wanting to push Jayme or Anthony too hard.

Friday and our last day in the Disney parks, we headed over for a half day at the Magic Kingdom. We focused on the rides Jayme loves, took it slow and had a wonderful day sending videos and photos to family and friends from the attractions. We also spent a good chunk of the day playing sorcerers of the magic kingdom.

With the park closing early for Mickeys Very Merry Christmas party we waved goodbye to the Magic Kingdom and headed back to downtown Disney for dinner and to finished our vacation shopping.

Strike three happened at midnight, Joshua began to explode from both ends. We really felt bad for the maids… all week long our room was filled with some pretty gross stuff. What had started as possible food poisoning became confirmed for us as a visit from the travelers curse, the Norovirus.

The next morning we checked out of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, loaded the car and headed to the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios. Joshua who was at death’s door made a beeline for our new room and passed out for the day. Jayme and Anthony freshened up, got our express pass photos taken and took the resort boat down to Universal Studios.

Skipping the roller coasters that we knew Jayme wanted to experience with Joshua(because Anthony hates anything that goes upside down), we opted for the grand tour of both parks. This was Jayme’s first time to Universal Studios in Orlando. He was not a big fan of Universal in California, so he didn’t have very high hopes he would like the Orlando version. The one thing we did have this time around that we did not have in California was Unlimited Express passes. As Hard Rock Hotel resort guests we got unlimited Fasspasses to all of the attractions, this was a huge hit with Jayme.

We started on the Studio side and rode the Mummy ride 4 times, then headed to the Men in Black ride (which Jayme LOVED!) and rode it 6 times in a row. We rode the Simpsons ride and wandered down and did the weird ET ride. At this point Jayme wanted to see the Harry Potter area. He has been reading each night the Harry Potter books as a part of his weekly homework, so he had a high interest in seeing what the World of Harry Potter looked like.

We exited the Studios park and headed over to the Islands of Adventure. The weather that had started cool a week ago was now blazing hot. So after a week of touring the parks, being infected with Norovirus, the sun and the heat was really wearing the two of us down. So we had to stop for ice cream… right?

Once finished with our ice creams we entered the Islands of adventure. Whoville was all done up for Christmas,  but Jayme has now crossed the age line were Doctor Seuss is “cool”, “this is just for little kids!” So we made a beeline for Harry Potter. And just like our last visit in 2010,  the whole area was a mad house. Jayme was hot and tired and the line for the ride was over 200 mins, so we looked around the best we could and Anthony dragged Jayme to some air conditioning.

We ate lunch in the Jurassic Park main science building then a short walk from lunch Jayme found the water canon area in the kid play area. We spent a good 40 mins there as Jayme got drenched and refreshed.

It was then shortly after that we figured out we needed a nap. We headed over to the Marvel Island and rode the Spiderman 3-d ride, as we exited Anthony reached down and took off Jayme’s 3-D glasses, which he had perched on the top of this head. Jayme then commented “OH… I forgot I had glasses, that must be why the ride was so fuzzy.” Yep nap time! We returned the hotel and joined Joshua for a long nap.

After our nap all three of us headed back to the Studio park because at 6pm was the final big surprise for Jayme on the trip. A live performance by Mannheim Steamroller. One of Jayme’s favorite songs, one that he wants to hear year round is their version of Carol of the Bells. So we found a spot on the lawn in front of the stage and watched and hear a wonderful Christmas concert. Jayme was thrilled when they played his favorite song and he sang along with a HUGE smile on his face.

We then headed exited the park for the night and headed to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. Jayme loved the music and the props. After dinner we headed back to our hotel and then Anthony took Jayme swimming in the amazing resort pool.

Sunday arrived and with it our final day in Orlando. With our fight at 6:00 pm and Joshua now mostly recovered the three of us had the whole day to play in the Universal Parks. We ordered a Continental breakfast for the three of us and at 8:00 am, a full hour before the park opened we used our hotel access to get in to the Harry Potter area.

The crowd level was tiny compared to the day before, our wait time for the main attraction was only 15 mins. Jayme LOVED IT! So with only a 30 min wait we rode it for a second time. For Jayme this was to be his only highlight of the day.

Since the day before we left all of the roller coaster rides for Jayme and Joshua to share together, our next stop was to the Hulk. The Hulk is a super fast super upside down roller coaster and Jayme LOVES those types of rides. As we approached the express pass line the staff person,  directed Jayme to the height check board. Jayme was too short and within moments Jayme was in tears. Now before we left Jayme had a doctors check up and based on his Doctor’s measurement Jayme WAS tall enough, but by Universals measuring rod Jayme was at least 2 inches to short. After the water works ended, Jayme remembered this fact. He became convinced that Universal had “stupid people” who “don’t even know how to measure correctly”. And we are pretty sure he is right because sadly, this under measurement proved to be true for every roller coaster that Jayme wanted to ride.

But his theory of poor measurement standards by Universal became stronger as the day went on because each measuring rod showed him at a different height. We worked very hard to try and turn his day around, but he was a mad and sad little kido for most of the day.

The flight home was uneventful. Jayme is a great flyer All in all, the trip was not the best one we have taken. But between the illness and incorrect measurement we did somehow manage to have a wonderful trip.

Jayme’s Birthday Trip to Disneyworld

Morning Surprise

Saturday morning, Jayme awoke to what he thought would be a normal day. Breakfast, video games, legos, ect. But as he came down the stairs he noticed something was different. A huge box wrapped in birthday wrapping paper was on the dining room table. This of course started “What in the box dad?” “Is it for me?” “When do I get to open it?”

Once breakfast was eaten and Joshua came down and made his morning appearance, Jayme was allowed to open the box. As he opened the box a huge red balloon with Mickey Mouse shot straight up for the ceiling only to have it’s escape hindered by a red string tired to a strange looking purple dragon aka Figment.

Inside the box Jayme found his My Pal Mickey doll and a blue binder. He took them out and looked at his dads totally confused. He asked how his Mickey doll got in the box.

Anthony came over and opened up the binder and turned to the page with a large Delta airlines logo on it and asked Jayme to read the date on the sheet. Jayme read out 2/11/12. Anthony then explained that this was an airline ticket. Jayme’s eyes then started to get big as the dad’s told jayme that in 3 hours we would be on a plane headed to Disneyworld. Joshua then headed up stairs and started bringing down all the suitcases that the Dad’s had packed the night before. Then after 3 very long hours we headed to the airport.

Flight Down & Hotel

The flight down was fairly easy. Jayme has become a seasoned traveler. We flew down on Delta to Atlanta and then had a 2 hour layover before we got on a Aeromexico/Delta flight to Orlando. We arrived at MCO Orlando International Airport a little after midnight. We hopped on the airport monorail and then walked down and collected our bags. We then had to fight crowds and swim back upstream to goupstairs and into the center of the airport to check in to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.

Check in was fairly smooth. Checking in in-front of us was another family that was on our flight from Atlanta. We remembered them because they paid extra for a first class upgrade for the 1 1/2 hour Aeromexico/Delta flight to Orlando, which both Dad’s thought was pretty wasteful. It appeared they were being a difficult check in for hotel staff. They didn’t want to go down and collect their own bags from the bag collection carrousel, they wanted the hotel staff to fetch them. So they had to spend 20 mins describing what the bags looked like in grat detail. We got checked in quickly next to them and headed up to our room with our own bags, no help needed.

We have to say it, we love the MCO Hyatt. We were forced to stay there once before when we got bumped from a US Airways flight a few years back. So when we saw our flight was coming in so late, we knew the Hyatt would work great for us. The room was great, King bed and a nice big bathroom. They even had Jayme’s rollaway in the room and waiting for us. It was great, after a few quick showers and baths to wash off our travel dust. All three of us were asleep in no time.

DAY ONE – Downtown Disney 

We woke late, 10a.m. est (7 a.m. pst). We had purchased the awaken package which gave us a late check out and a free breakfast. The hotel restaurant was very pretty and had an amazing view of the runway. The service and food were…. well ok. A bit slow and pretty standard hotel buffet food. We headed back to our room and finished packing and bundeling up for our day at Downtown Disney. The plan was for us to pick up our rental car at noon then drive over and check in to our Disney Hotel (Port Orlean’s Riverside), then take the boat down to Downtown Disney for the afternoon.

On our last visit in December of 2010 we came right at the peak of the coldest weather Orlando had seen in decades. So we were a bit bummed to see that the weather was rather cold High 50’s and mid 60’s for the first two days of our trip. But we bundled up and checked out of our hotel.

First challenge was getting the car. In the past we only had to walk out to the lot and drive off, but this time they wanted us to check in via the desk. So as Joshua and Jayme waited, Anthony ran in and got in a very very long line.  Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a express self serve check in console, a console that no one was using. At first it looked off, but a little ad popped up on it’s screen. No one else in line seems to give a second thought. So putting his fate in the hands of a gadget, Anthony took a chance and headed over the machine. 4 mins later his paper work printed out and he was on his way. As he raced back to his waiting family he looked back at the huge line that had not moved. Now free to pick any compact car we wanted, we all quickly picked…. a black Dodge Caliber. Same car we have at home and drove over and over in Hawaii. We really must be Dodge fans or just creatures of habit (definately habit).

Thanks to Joshua’s huge bag of quarters we had no issues sailing through the toll ways and arrived on Disney property within about 35 mins.

This was are third stay at Port Orleans, 2nd time at Riverside. So we knew our way around the grounds very well. We headed into the hotel lobby and checked in. We had a bit of scare as they had us in one of the old rooms with 2 double beds and Disney doubles are twins. Luckily with a bit of begging and our 2 queen confirmation from our travel agency (Travels Through Wonderland) in hand, they found a ground floor corner room with 2 queen beds and a pull down trundle bed for Jayme. Best of all it was one of the new re-habbed rooms.  We jumped back in the car and drove over to our room, it was amazing. Once again Jayme was thrilled to have his own special little bed.

We took a bunch of photos of the room (like the disney geeks that we are) then feeling a bit brave put on our light spring jackets and headed down the the boat dock. Disney run’s some little bus/boats down the river to Downtown Disney from select resorts. It’s a nice 15 minute boat ride and a bit more special then taking a resort bus. Once we got on the water in the boat, we quickly regretted our light spring jackets. A wind was blowing across the water and mid way down all three of us were popsicles. The curse of the cold weather seemed to have stuck again. Jayme ignored the cold weather for the most part and spent the whole ride talking the boat Captain’s ear off. For the rest of the trip we referred to the boat Captain as his new friend and would look for him each day as we walked past the dock.

Downtown Disney is fun, kinda a large outdoor shopping mall. The 2 big hits for us was the Pin store for Anthony and the Lego store for Jayme. Jayme loved the lego store he quickly was able to find a lego Fire truck set that he JUST HAD TO HAVE!!! As Joshua took Jayme away to other distractions, he gave a wink to Anthony who grabbed the box and headed to the check out counter. We got off pretty cheap, it was only $25.00 bucks and worked out great for us as it gave Jayme something to do all week long when we had down time in the hotel room. We also were able to hide the package from Jayme until we got back to the room, which made it a super cool surprise once we got back to our room.

By the time we got out of the marketplace area and reached the upper Paradise Island part of Downtown Disney, it was pushing 2:45pm and we were all starting to get hungry. We tried to get into several of the restaurants only to be told they all had 45 min+ waiting times. The last place we tried was the House of Blues, at first it didn’t look like it would be very kid friendly but it really was. We had a great lunch and Joshua even had a few drinks, the vacation was officially ON!

After lunch the weather really started to get chilly so we hopped a warm resort bus back to our hotel and layed down for a nice nap. After a nice nap and a bit of further exploring of our resort it was dinner time. Per tradition: we always have our first welcome dinner at Raglan Road, this time was no different. Skipping the bus and cold boat ride this time we choose to drive over in our rental car. Raglan Road is one of the restaurants in Downtown Disney, a traditional Irish pub with live traditional dancing and music. Both of which Jayme LOVED! Jayme did state that he could dance better than the professional dancers which was quite hilarious…

DAY TWO- Magic Kingdom

We woke early on Monday morning 6:30am est (3:30am pst), but thanks to our 2 prior nights on eastern standard time, it really didn’t feel so early to us. We dressed warmly, as the temperature was only suppose to get to a high of 65 for the day, then headed down to the hotel’s food court. We chowed down on yummy Mickey waffles, orange juice and the other normal breakfast staples before jumping into our rental car and heading over to the Magic Kingdom.

One of the perks of staying at a Disney resort is free Disney transportation plus free parking. We like to drive in and then take the bus back for a nap. Return via the bus and then beat the crowds and rush at park closing by jumping in our car and driving back. This was the travel plan for the day.

After parking we got to the transportation center nice and early, we had at least 45min before the park opened. So we took the monorail over Bay lake to the Magic Kingdom. Jayme loved it! We passed through bag check and then waited with a small crowd just pass the ticket booths for the welcome show and rope drop to happen at 9:00am.

As 9:00am hit the Disney Railroad came rolling in and on it was Mickey and all the gang. They did a short welcome show and song and the next thing we knew they dropped the rope and we were walking on to Main Street USA. As the crowds poured into Tomorrow land and Fantasyland we did the trick we learned from a cast member and headed into Adventure land. We did a walk on to the Jungle Cruise, Pirates of Caribbean, then had to drag Jayme away from Splash Mountain. Neither Dad was up for getting wet on a cold day.

We made really good progress all day. Jayme had his big “It’s my Birthday” pin on so every castmember was saying happy birthday to him and several would do little special things for him. He was made a Jr. Deputy of Frontier land and even got a little sliver badge to wear. For the rest of our trip when ever he would see kids breaking the rules he would comment that he had to do something because he was a Deputy. It was SO CUTE!

We had a nice lunch at the Plazza restaurant, nice sandwiches. Then caught a resort bus back to our hotel for a nice long nap. We made it back to the Magic Kingdom around 3:30ish and headed over to Tomorrowland were Jayme found his most FAVORITE ride in the whole world, Autopia. Little gas powered go carts cars which the kids get to drive. Over the trip he  did this ride at least 6 times. Space Mt was Jayme’s 2nd favorite ride. We used fastpasses to bypass the 90 min wait (with pass 10 min wait), but Jayme really struggled with understanding that we could not get unlimited fastpasses. We really worked hard on this trip to be aware of Jayme’s limits, so many times we would skip a ride because of the wait time and make plans to us a fasspass or hit the ride on our 2nd day. This worked really well for us and Jayme was able to get on every ride his size would allow at least once over the course of our trip. We also would prep Jayme before each area or ride and help him set some managed expectations.

That evening was the Wishes Fireworks Spectacular which Jayme really liked.

DAY THREE – Animal Kingdom

We woke again early 7:00am, but today we were not in a huge rush. Today’s park destination was Animal Kingdom, a park that we both feel is a half day park. The big excitement for the day was it was going to be mid 70’s, so everyone jumped into shorts. It was also Valentines day, Anthony presented Joshua and Jayme with boxes of Chocolate and cards and Josh and Jayme gave Anthony a card. It was funny because everyone figured the other person would forget. But none of us did, how is that for sappy.

We had breakfast again at the hotels dining hall and then drove over to Animal Kingdom. We arrived about 9:45am (well past the 9:00am rope drop) we started to get a bit concerned that we had made a mistake by delaying because once we reached the maingate the crowd was huge. As we walked up the main road it was shoulder to shoulder with all the other guests.

We made a beeline for Expedition Everest fearing long lines. But we were excited to see only a 25 min standby wait and quickly grabbed a fastpass for about 1 hour out and headed down to Dinoland.

Our first offical ride for the day was a flying Dino ride. Jayme really loved it as he had a control stick that rasied and lowered our Dino. After that thrilling 2 min ride, were we reached the mind blowing height of 20 feet we headed down to DINOSAUR, the big thrill ride in the Dino area. The premise of the ride is you enter a jeep that goes back in time and you see Dinosaurs. Jayme was not impressed, he has become a Doctor Who fan and he did not understand/buy into the idea that a Jeep can go back in time. Police box yes, bumpy jeep no.

As much as he disliked DINOSAUR he LOVED Expedition Everest. Grand total he had us do it 3 times. It was at this point we realized that Jayme is a coster junky. On the scary parts he would hold on to one of his Dad’s arms, with all the strength he had, then scream his head off only to beg to do it again before the safely belts had even been released.

For lunch today our Travels Through Wonderland agent  booked us in the Tusker House, a African buffet. On our last visit we really enjoyed our meal so as we walked up to the podium to check in we started to get a bit worried when we noticed that Disney had changed the lunch schedule to a Character meet. This worried us for 2 reasons. One Character meals tend to have kinda dumb down so-so food. And second, Jayme kinda was not buying into meeting Characters. Whenever we had seen one in the parks he would ask all about the costume and want to know who was inside the costume. Jayme is VERY smart and a bit to old to fall for it… at least we thought.

The hostess checked us in and sent us over to the waiting area. Once at the waiting area we were queued up for a family photo with Donald Duck. Jayme was pretty quiet, and asked a few quiet questions about who was in the costume. But the second we got up to Donald Jayme had FULL buy in and was really meeting the real Donald Duck.

The meal also was quite good, a large selection of Americanized African foods. The only bad moment was when Joshua tried to order a drink and got carded. Guess who left his ID back in the hotel room and could not get served? SO FUNNY! Also a mistake he never made again on the trip.

During our meal Jayme’s buy in to the Character meet continued as he began visually stalking Mickey Mouse as Mickey made his rounds around the room meeting each table. We met Goofy and Daisy, but he kept asking over and over when Mickey was going to come over. Finally when Mickey did come over he had a long conversation with him and even told him a secret (one he has still not told his Dad’s).

After lunch we did Expedition Everest again and then Joshua and Jayme braved the Kali River rapides. Bothwere soaked head to toe!

We walked around in the now gorgeous sunny hot afternoon to dry off and then took the train up to Rafiki’s planet watch, which is a backstage look at how they care for all of the animals. Jayme liked the train the best.

Next up was Kilimanjaro Safari. On our last trip we skipped this ride because we found it to be too fast and not enough animals. So we were very pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the ride this time. We took a lot of great photos.

After the safari trip we headed back to our resort and had a nap. We had dinner reservations again for Downtown Disney, something fun for Valentines day. We choice to have dinner at Paradiso, Taste of Americas. We took the boat down again, this time it was a pleasant and warm trip. The Captain even dropped us off on a closer pier to our restaurant.

This dinner was perhaps the best we had the whole trip and the drinks were good too 🙂

DAY FOUR – EPCOT

Wednesday arrived and it was EPCOT day! For a special treat for our train obsessed little boy, we drove back the Transportation center by the Magic Kingdom and took the long Epcot Monorail to Epcot.

As we did the day before we got a late start and didn’t make it to the main gate until about 9:30am. Once in we spotted Stitch doing a impromptu meet and greet and we made a beeline right to him. We didn’t see him in Hawaii in his home town, but we finally found him in Orlando. Lilo & Stitch is probability our families favorite Disney movie. It was great for Jayme and Joshua to get some face time with Stitch.

We spent the morning in Innoventions East and West and then moved out to Ellen’s Energy Adventure and Jayme’s new favorite ride, Mission: Space.

Mission: SPACE is a motion simulator thrill ride at Epcot. It simulates what an astronaut might experience aboard a spacecraft on a mission to Mars, from the higher g-force of blastoff to the speculative hypersleep. The attraction exposes riders to forces up to 2.5G, more than twice the force of gravity at the Earth’s surface.

The ride has 2 options, First option green, a less intense advenure and Orange the full 2.5G spinning mission. Guess which version Joshua and Jayme put Anthony on 3 times? They loved it. After Mission: Space we grabbed fast passes for Test track and then worked our way around World Showcase.

We stopped off in Mexico and rode the Three Caballeros ride. During this ride we had our only really negative run in with a fellow guest. She said behind us in the boat.  The ride it self is a cute boat ride were you search for Donald Duck who has gone missing he Mexico, lots of music and Mexico tourist destinations are highlighted. As the boat turned the first corner, Marge became telling her life story to the people seated in her row. She talked about how she waited to claim Medicare and Social Security. She talked about how he got her home loan. She talked about how he stayed in a loveless marriage, just so she would see Europe. In fact we now know more personal information about Marge then we would have ever cared to know.

As the boat was lifted up to the dock and everyone started to de board, Anthony had reached his limit. He turned to Jayme and Joshua and said. “Well kids, what did that boat ride teach us?”, he then proceeded to loudly recite key parts from Marge’s loud private conversation. Let’s just say she seems a bit taken back. On the plus side we did get some super cute photos of Jayme in HUGE Mexican sombrero’s.

Here is were we the Dad’s made our one and only mistake. We were all having such a good time, we skipped our nap. Only going to make that mistake once, trust us. We had a great afternoon exploring the World Showcase, but around 3pm, Jayme started to get that whine to his voice. By dinner time, he was a big party poop.

Dinner itself was at Les Chefs de France. All three of us had a nice dinner, but there was some pouting and some bad choices at the dinner table. Luckily Jayme was able to turn it all around and we got to stay for the fireworks. but nap time was not going to be missed again.

DAY FIVE – Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is a half day park. Hollywood Studios is a half day park. Hollywood Studios is a half day park. We have said that over and over for years now, and every time we go we forget that one important fact.

We arrived around 10am having had a late breakfast. The bag check line was itself a 10 min wait. Poor Joshua, aka our Sherpa, took one for the team and waited in the line while jayme and Anthony waiting by the turnstiles for him.

We headed right to the rides we knew Jayme was going to love. First stop the ride of all rides for Jayme, STAR TOURS! In all I think we rode it 5 times.

Next was Toy story Mid-way Mania, when we got there the wait was already up to 90mins so we grabbed a fastpass and headed to Tower of Terror. Well then…. our day was kinda done. Jayme was not really into Princess stuff. We did do the Light Action’s car show and the Indy show. But then there was really nothing for us to do. In retrospect we should have come at noon.

We had to kill a bunch of time ,which was hard for Jayme, But dinner time finally came and we headed over to Mama Melrose for our dinner reservation. Dinner was ok, it was kinda cheap Italian food. Next time we will be spring for our favorite, the Brown Derby.

After dinner we headed up to Fantasmic. Jayme loved the Disneyland version. By the time we got there it was standing room only. It only took a second for both of us to decided to skip the show and ride Star Tours again. No way are we (the spoiled) going to stand. LOL

DAY SIX – EPCOT

We woke up late and headed over to EPCOT for our second day touring the park. Last time we took the Monrail, this time we took our car. We got really great parking, much to the pain of Jayme, who really really wanted us to take the parking tram rather then walk the 150 feet.

Once inside first stop was Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Anthony’s favorite ride. We had a great day, re-riding Jayme’s favorites. Mission Space again won as Jayme’s favorite but he didn’t really care for Soarin, which is simulated ride. We mentioned this to our family therapist when we got home and he felt it might be the motion that Jayme is drawn to, rather then the visual stimulation.

We had a pretty horrible lunch in the American experience. But dinner was great! For our last dinner in Epoct we headed back to Marge’s Life story boat ride… ahh I mean the Mexico and had dinner at the San Angel Inn. The San Angel a little Mexican restaurant inside over looking the Marge’s boat ride. On our last visit, years ago, we were sat next to the restroom, but this time we had a great seat and a really friendly waiter. The menu is more traditional Mexican then Tex-Mex. So Jayme got to try some new tastes.

The evening ended again with fireworks. This time we watched from Japan.

 

DAY SEVEN – Magic Kingdom

Last day in the parks, which means we got to sort of sleep in. We have 9:00am breakfast reservations at Kona Cafe inside Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Spa.We drove over to the ticket and transportation lot and took the Monorail to the resort.

We had pacadamia pineapple pancakes, Kona press pot coffee and Joshua even ordered the Big Kahuna (French Toast, Pancakes topped with Pineapple Sauce and Macadamia Nut Butter, Eggs, Home-fried Potatoes, Ham, Bacon, and Sausage) We all had a huge sugary breakfast and headed to the parks happy and full.

First stop once we entered was a visit and photo shoot with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Then we spent the day exploring and re-riding our favorite rides.

Towards the end of the day we stopped to have Jayme’s portrait drawn. It turned out ok, we seemed to have been assigned to one of the artists that did more cartoons then life like portraits, but for $35.00 it was still good.

That evening we watched the Main Street Electrical Parade, which Jayme LOVED..

Travel Day Home

Today we learned a VERY important lesson. If you see something you want, buy it.

While in EPCOT day’s before we saw a very very cool Tin Sign package of the Disneyworld attraction posters. Both of us said, YES lets get it. Well we decided to wait and pick it up on Sunday. So when we woke we had a plan. Pack our bags, eat breakfast, go swimming and relax until check out. Then go to Downtown Disney, watch a surprise movie for Jayme, do some shopping then head to the airport.

Everything ran to plan until we got to Downtown Disney. We got to the movie theater and Jayme was thrilled to get to see Star War’s Eppisode 1 in 3-D. We had not let him see the new Star War’s movies yet, so he was thrilled. The movie was what is was before, long and dull, but Jayme loved it. We left the theater and looked down at our watch’s. The movie’s run time was incorrectly listed, we now had less then an hour to get to the airport.

So began our running shopping trip. 3 shirts for Jayme.. check, something for Joshua to wear to work.. check, new Mickey watch for Josh.. not sold! (Panic) Metal tin signs.. not sold! (MORE Panic)

We dived out the Disney store and started running to the far end of the Marketplace searching for the watch and the Tin signs. Luckily in our panic we found both! Jayme though it was a great game as we ran around and even made rocket sounds as we weaved around the fat tourists, laughing in his cute way the whole time.

Treasures secured, we got the car and quickly headed to the airport. We arrived WAY outside of our comfort zone for checking in at the airport. Thankfully, we had checked in online before coming or we would have missed our flight. We got to the check in desk only to find a huge (angry) line.

Frontier, the airline we were flying home, had only 3 people working and one was stuck helping a potential passenger who did not know her confirmation number, did not have a credit card, but was sure she had booked the flight. We hopped in the bag drop only line and even then waited 20 mins. The mood of the crowd was ugly and very vocal. With our flight boarding and due to take off in 10 mins the lady in front of us kindly let us cut.

Once it was our turn check in only took seconds and we raced off to the terminal. One good thing was since check in was so horribly bungled,  they were forced to hold the flight for all of the passengers. But we ran anyways.

Once onboard, we had to chase away a guy (cue angry person look from Joshua) who was trying to pinch our assigned seats. Frontier does not issue assigned seats unless you pay extra, and with Jayme with us we paid extra to insure our family stayed together. This passenger did not and was shocked his family would be split up. Once we were settled the flight was pretty smooth. It was a 4 hour flight to Denver, then a 2 hour layover and s short 2 hour flight home.

We paid the extra $6.00 for Jayme’s seat and he watch cartoon network for 4 hours. He loved it so much he didn’t want to get off the plane. For him the flight home was too short.

It was a great trip and we can’t wait for the next one!

 

USS Arizona and Home (Day 12)

We woke early on our last morning aboard. Having put our bags out in the hallway the night before, we showered and dressed in the clothes we had kept out the night before.

We ate our last breakfast at the Aloha Buffet then headed back to our room gathered our carry on bags and headed to the ships theater. We had early bird tickets for the Arizona/Pearl harbor. After arriving we met our group and were exited off the ship and down to our waiting bags, then onto a waiting coach.

The driver/tour guide had pre purchased tickets for the Arizona so all we had to do was kill sometime. So the driver took us on a short Honolulu tour. We visited the Iolani Palace, Aliʻiolani Hale and the King Kamehameha Statue. We had a chance to jump out of the coach and get up close and take some photos, but didn’t get to go into any of the venues.

Next we drove around the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Then our coach headed to battleship row/Pearl harbor. We didn’t know how Jayme would handle visiting the USS Arizona memorial. We knew that years from now when he is studying WWII we would be able to draw from his visit. We did a little prep with him, told him were we where going was like a church and we had to be quiet and respectful.

Once we arrived we had about 20 mins before our tour time started. We walked slowly over to theater and did a stop at the restroom and gift shop. At 9:45am we walked into the theater and watched a 20 min movie about the Pearl Harbor attack. Jayme was pretty quiet for most of the movie. He had a few questions about why things were happening and if this movie was real. Because he is 6 he really liked the explosions…

Once the movie was over we exited the theater and boarded the navy boat which took us out to the memorial. Jayme liked the boat ride and had lots of questions about how the boat worked. It took only a few minutes to reach the memorial. Once we docked we had 15 mins to view the site. Jayme did really good and was very respectful and quiet. We both were very proud of him.

When our 15 mins were up we re-boarded our boat back to the shore. We had a lot of time before our coach took us to the airport so we had time to explore the museums a bit. This proved to be a bit too much for Jayme as there was lots of buttons to push. He must push all buttons at all times or somehow the world will come to an end. So we had to have a little time out to calm our little body.

Back on the bus and right to the airport. Once at the airport, check in was fairly easy. While Anthony checked in Jayme, Joshua rebalanced the weights on our bags, getting us both at 49.99 pounds each (meaning no extra fee). The biggest surprise of the trip happened as we headed into the security check point, Jayme announced in a slightly panicked tone that one of his teeth is falling out.

We had a 2 hour wait for our plane, but that gave us time to buy some food for the long flight home and to pick up some lunch at Burger King. A favorite item was the bottle of Hawaiian water ( Yes folks, for $5 measly dollars you too can have a bottle of Hawaiian Water), which is still in our fridge.The flight home was very easy. Jayme even slept for a bit. We landed on time and Sam met us at the baggage carousel at 11:30 PST.

This was an amazing trip for our new family. The trip was to be all about Joshua and his birthday, but it really turned into an amazing bonding trip for our new family.

If you would like to see some of the 4000 photos from our trip, shoot us an email and will add you to our new family shutterfly account.


Kauai (Day 10)

We woke as the ship slowly pulled into the Nawiliwili port on our last island Kauai. Kauai is called the garden island, and it is very clear why. Everything is so green. With no rush we we had breakfast topside at the on desk buffet. We then exited the ship and jumped on our last Thrifty shuttle. The airport was a bit further aways, but no issues this time with our rental. We very quickly where jumping into our third Dodge Caliber rental and heading down the road towards a pretty amazing day for Jayme.

First stop was at the Kauai Plantation. We drove in and both Joshua and Anthony played distract the Jayme, we wanted this to be a big surprise (turns out we got the bigger one). So as we drove into the plantaion we told Jayme to look right or left, anything for him not to see the railroad tracks or the train.

The plan was to explore the grounds a bit and take the 10:30 am train, well Anthony blew it. The train departed at 10:00am not 10:30am, so we had to run to get our tickets and by the time we got there all of the good seats in the 2nd open train car were taken. All that was left was seats in the hot enclosed train car. So we decided to make the best of it and sit as close as we could to the train engine, because Jayme is train insane. So boarded and walked all the way up and took the first row seats so Jayme could watch the train driver.

A few moments before the train ride began the tour guide,whose seat was next to ours, boarded the train and looked at Jayme and asked him how old he was. The then asked Jayme if he would like to drive the train today. No need to comment on what Jayme’s response was. Once he had our ok, our son was whisked off the train car and onto the train engine. For 45 mins Jayme rode up front with the train engineer. At one point, the engineer (Bruce) stepped outside of the cab and leaned in the window and put Jayme in the drivers seat and taught him how to run the train. He then took Jayme’s seat and let Jayme drive the train alone.  This was the singular highlight for Jayme for the WHOLE TRIP. Of course the best part for Anthony was Joshua asking him in amazement “How did you arrange this?”

Once the train trip was over and the “Can I drive the train again?” mantra was taken care of, we explored the Plantation. Stopping by the Rum house and buying a few bottles.

Our next destination was Waimea canyon, the Grand canyon of Hawaii. But along the way we had to visit a friend of our, experiment 626. When the Disney artists came to Kauai to do their research they spent a lot of time in Hanapepe. Much of the town an the roads  and hills around Hanapepe ended up being truthfully redrawn into te home town of Lilo and Stitch in the movie Lilo and Stitch. It was pretty cool to see the town and so inspired the artists, in fact while driving we swear we say the road to Nani and Lilo’s house.

Once had our fill of Disney Magic, we headed out for the canyon.

Waimea Canyon: also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon, approximately ten miles (16 km) long and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep, located on the western side of Kauaʻi in the Hawaiian Islands. Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water,” a reference to the erosion of the canyon’s red soil. The canyon was formed by a deep incision of the Waimea River arising from the extreme rainfall on the island’s central peak,Mount Waiʻaleʻale, among the wettest places on earth. (source wikipedia)

Simply put, it was amazing. We drove along the canyons edge, stopping for pictures and eventually ended up in Kokee state park. There was a nice little resturant that served us a great lunch and a huge green lawn for Jayme to run around and explore. Jayme also had the chance to feed a large flock of wild chicken’s.

We took our time driving back and even stopped at a local coffee plantation. There was a nice little self guided tour on the plantation and it was another chance for Joshua to buy more coffee. We drove back to the airport and dropped off our last rental car with no issues. We had planned to mail a big box of stuff back home, but could not find an open airport. This worried us a bit as we had at least 40 pounds of Rum, T-shirts, sea shells, ect. In the end we decided the overwieght costs for Hawaian airline would be cheaper then trying to Fed EX our stuff.

One back on the ship, we found out that NCL didn’t want us to bring 2 bottles of run on board…. But once we got them checked there was no issue. We headed back to our room for a rest and Jayme headed off to kids club. We loved Kid’s club, perhaps a bit more then Jayme did. For it let the Dad’s to have a nice dinner for 2 alone!

 

Kona (Day 9)

KONA – Land of expensive coffee.

Just like Hilo, Kailua Kona was a one day stop. But unlike Hilo, the ship did not dock, the ship dropped anchor out in the bay and we had to take tender boats to the dock.

This was pretty fun for Jayme, the tender boats are much more like a real boat and had a lot more bounce then a slow moving cruise ship. It was a much different way for him to ride on the ocean.

Once we made it across and on to dry land we whipped out the iPad and started walking to Starbucks. Joshua needed some coffee and wanted to use the free wi-fi to check in with his email. We didn’t know it at the time but while relaxing in Starbucks we were observed by one of the crew from the ship. Later, he introduced himself while working in the Aloha cafe, he thought Jayme was cute and he was “family”.

After our caffeine fix, we walked over to a local grocery store and hit the coffee aisle. We picked up a little over 3 pounds of Kona coffee at the local rate rather then the tourist rate. Of course we did have to pack mule it with us for the day.

Coffee needs met we walked back down to the waterfront and visited the Hulihee Palace, former former vacation home of Hawaiian royalty. It was mostly a tourist trap, but not a bad one.

We then spent the rest of the day wandering and shopping in all the beachside stores. One place we found was Donkey Balls, a store that sells chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Once in the store Jayme made a little friend, the Grandson of the owner. While we shopped and Joshua ordered a tall Kona coffee, Jayme helped the Grandson front face the store. It was UBER cute. He really was trying this whole trip to connect and make friends.

It was here in Kailua Kona that Jayme had his first shaved ice. We ordered a rainbow and all shared it. A shaved ice is like a snow cone, but the ice is finer and more like slivers then ground ice, it is also MUCH MUCH bigger.

On the way back to the ship, Jayme announced that he had to go pee. Which goes like this… “I NEED TO GO PEE… AHHHHH AHHHH AHHHH AHHH” Followed by jumping and dancing. We quickly looked around for the nearest restroom and ran in to a little restaurant. A server walked up as Jayme is doing his dance and holding himself, and Anthony asked if Jayme could use their restroom. She looked at Anthony, then at Jayme and then said… “No.” Without missing a beat Anthony/Nyssa asked her back, “Oh, so it’s ok if he just pee’s on the floor here, Great! Do you have a mop handy?” She just stood there shocked that someone called her on her ignorant actions. Luckily, the restaurant right next door had a great staff and had no issue with helping a 6 year boy out of pee hell.

The boat ride back to the ship was uneventful, but the evenings activities where! Tonight the Captain was going to visit the Kids Club tonight and it was the number one thing Jayme wanted to do. We were a bit nervous about sending him. Kids Club is a no parent zone, but has a large staff to watch the kids. We really didn’t know how Jayme would behave. So we dropped him off and told the staff were to find us. After a nice dinner alone (our first since Jayme moved in) we returned to the kids club only to see Jayme the perfect angel. His face aglowing and you could see how much he wanted to stay with the other kids. So we came back 30 mins later.

 

Hilo (Day 8)

Anthony woke first as usual and climbed over Jayme to hide out on the balcony until the others woke up. One of the cool things on our trip was the iPad had celluar connetions for 97% of our trip, even as we moved between the island. AT&T might suck in Portland, but they seem to have Hawaii covered. So Anthony spend a lot of his mornings waiting for us to wake up, out on the balcony checking us in to all of our destinations via facebook.

Once we all had woken up and showered and dressed we headed down to the Skyline restaurant for breakfast again. We were able to watch the ship dock from our table, it was nice.

Deporting was easy, but the shuttle to the Thrifty car rental sight was NOT. The shuttle arrived and first they announce only the designated drivers could board. So Joshua and Jayme had to wander off and find a place to wait. Once on the shuttle, Anthony got booted off because his name as not on the rental list. So very angry and not wanting to wait, we hailed a cab and drove off to the airport. Once at the airport $20.00 poorer, we get to the Thrifty car line proudly displayed on a the wall was a Special welcome to all our blue chip members, A DeSoren. So they had Anthony’s name for the special check in but not to get on the shuttle (incompetent boobs).

So we get our rental car, another Dodge Caliber, and headed off for the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. We shadowed a big tour bus the whole drive up, amazing how many people choice to take the very pricy tour rather then do the car rental…. perhaps they know how incompetent Thrifty Rent a car in Hilo is, hummmm.

Our first stop once we got to the park was the visitor center. We stopped in, a got a free map and found out what was open and what was closed. We then decided to take a short walk to the caldera rim. There was a nice, paved, easy, flat, smooth, wheelchair accessible, path to the edge. It was on this nice path that Jayme forgot to how to walk. At the time we were baffled by why he could not walk, but looking back in hindsight our guess was he had his sea legs and his little body was still overcompensating for the motion of the boat. If you have ever been on a bumpy cruise you will know what we mean. Regardless of the reason.. Jayme fell down. The first fall was just some scuffed knees, no blood. 10 feet later the second fall brought on a small cut on the palm of his hand and his left knee scrapped and bleeding. The third fall got the other knee.

In hysterical tears and screams we made it back to the visitor centers bathroom, washed out his cuts and scrapes and applied every band aid we had in our emergency kit. Jayme was fine, but acted like he had been given a mortal wound. This play acting came and went all day long depending on how bored or tired he was. Regardless, for the rest of the day he had one of us holding him by the hand. We averted about 15 falls by the end of the day by holding his hand.

Our next stop was the Jaggar Museum, it is higher on the caldera rim and has a nice view of the smoking lava. Inside the museum Jayme got to see different types of lava and even jump up and down and create his own earthquake. We jumped back into the car and decided to head down to the Thurston lava tube. Along the way we stopped off and did a short walk out to some active lava steam vents. It was kinda stinky, but pretty cool. Jayme had a lot of questions about were the steam was coming from.

We followed the Chain of Craters road down to the lava tube. Once parked we had a short uphill then downhill climb before we came to the tube entrance. The first half of the lava tube has been wired with lights, but thats it. The floor is uneven and water drips down from the ceiling, it was neat but not to thrilling. At the midpoint a set of cement stairs rise up back to the jungle and the path back to the car. But we were a bit more brave and prepared. Anthony handed out the flashlights that he and Jayme had purchased several weeks earlier and we detoured the staircase and stepped down in to the darkness.

Once under our own light, the tunnels where much more entertaining. We took small steps and inspected the tunnel carefully, noting the different colors of rock and letting our imaginations run wild. We walked pretty far back and came to a drop off in the floor, the tunnel continued further, but we would have had to lower Jayme down so we decided to turn back. As we did we realized we had a tag along, it was a bit disturbing. Someone who did not bring a flashlight had followed our light down the tunnel and had quietly followed us. Once up out of the darkness we found a restroom for Jayme and then continued down the Chain of craters road.

Our next stop was at the 1974 lava flow. We climbed out of the car and had our first chance to walk across an lava field. Jayme was REALLY excited to be able to get out and touch the lava rock. We really wished we could have shown him flowing lava, but at the time of our visit there was no flowing lava.

We kept driving down and made it all the way to the end of the road, well the road kept going but is kinda burried under a lava flow. We took a long walk to and climbed on the lava river flow that covered the road. Just was we turned back and started the long walk back to the car, we felt little drops of waters. We made a beeline back to the via the Holei Sea Arch and we started the long drive back up.

Unlike our last port, we only had the one day in Hilo with no overnight. So we had to start the drive back to the airport. Once back on the main road and the sky opened up and the rain started to pour down. Thankful to be dry we started to look for someplace to eat, all of us were hungry.

Not wanting to be adventurous with Jayme, who was not milking his boo boos for all they were worth, we ended up in an IHOP. Breakfast is good anytime of the day and Jayme adores pancakes.

After helping the Hilo IHOP economy (yeah it was not cheap). We tanked up the car and headed back to the airport to drop off the car. We found the drop off area, unloaded the car and took the keys and paperwork up to the desk.

“Is your flight today sir?”“No, we are on the Pride of America” “OH… Well, didn’t you get the drop off instructions from the shuttle driver?” “NO! He refused to let us board, didn’t have my name on his list, But I see my name is still on the welcome board right next to you. WE had to PAY for a Cab!” “OH….. well you have to drop the rental car off at a super obscure location….” (FRUSTRATION!!!)

So back in the car….. drove around for another 10 minutes looking for a hidden parking lot. Once we arrived we joined everyone else under a big white tent and waited for the shuttle. Again we got to see the wonderful humanity of our fellow passengers. As the shuttle pulled in everyone shoved their way pass us in a effort to prevent us for cutting in line. Only point was, we didn’t even try to cut. It was so funny to see the everyone think the worst of us.

Well, the first shuttle was full so we had to wait for the next one. So we waited alone under the big white tent. As we waited more people arrived and positoned themselfs so they could get on before us, you know because they where there second and all. So as the next shuttle arrived we found ourselfs behind a bunch of cutters. The driver pulled up with an almost full shuttle and called out “I can only take 3”, so of course the other passengers who came after us stepped aside and allowed us to board, since we had been waiting longer…. wait NO they didn’t. They shoved forward and tried to cut us off. Well, the lot attendant saw what was happening so she called out and said “DeSoren party you have been waiting the longest… please board. The cutters made a path and we stepped forward.

As we walked pass the car lot attendance we called out and pointed to a nice old couple who arrived just after us (now both buried behind the mob) and had been chatting with us and Jayme, “THEY, are next in line”, then we glared at the cutters, all mean like.

 

Maui (day 7)

We all woke up around 9:00am and we all woke up hungry. We dressed and showered then headed up to the Aloha Buffet for breakfast. Becuase we slept in we missed the regular buffet, but the sun deck version was still open so we sat outside and had a simple breakfast.

After such a full day the the day before, we really felt we had done it all. So we took our time getting off the ship and really had no destination in mind. We flipped through the Hawaiian cruise guide book Anthony had and decided to drive up to Iao Valley State Park.

The Iao needle is a big rock, it was also a very nice little park. We walked around and played by the river. Took photos by the rock and then stopped by another little park on the way back. All of us were a bit tired and cranky. None of us wanted to really do anything strenuous.

The little park we found was very nice. It had lots of little streams and rivers with little fishes. Jayme had fun running round the hidden paths and exploring the ponds. It made for a nice morning.

We decided to head back to the ship early. But we stopped off to pick up some bottled waters and snacks. So nice being on a cruise where we can take the food and drink on and off. We found a drugstore and ended up with a big bag full of stuff. We headed back towards the airport, stopped to fill the car and then before we knew it we were on a free shuttle headed back to our ship.

Once on board we headed down to the Cadillac Cafe, a 50’s themed diner. We ordered some milkshakes, which were very good. They came as an extra charge to our meal, but today had been a cheap day so we splurged. The food was…. well gross.

We all were a bit grouchy so we ended back up in our room for a nice LONG nap. We had really been pushing ourselves while on Maui, so we deserved a nice rest. After our nap we hung round the room on the balcony, the ship had not left yet so we spent some time being lazy.

Tonight we also decided to live a bit and had dinner at the onboard Little Italy italian restaurant. Joshua ordered the drinks.. He got himself a amerretto sour and ordered Anthony wine. Now this just shows you how tired Joshua must have been, because nothing else explains why you would order someone who HATES wine, wine. As she brought the drinks to the table, Joshua’s eyes grew big and he looked right at Anthony and said “You hate me now, don’t you?”

 

Maui (day 6 1/2)

Our alarm and wake up call both hit within seconds of each other at 3:00am. We quickly put on the clothing we had laid out; Heavy socks, undershirts, jean pants, sweater pullovers, gloves, scarfs and hats. Tonight we would climb a volcano and meet the sun.

We dragged ourselves off the ship and back to our car. We poured Jayme into the backseat and he was back out before we even left the parking lot. We got on the Hana Highway and then turned on the Haleakala Highway for our surreal 2 hour ascent into sky.

Haleakala (“house of the sun”) is a volcano that rises to 10,023 feet, that is 23 feet above the point in which is “now safe to turn on your personal electronic devices”. The drive to the top was in pitch darkness, no street lights. Just switchback after switchback, and the eerie thought that right off the edge of the road was a UBER scary plummet, thankfully obscured by the pitch black night. We could see the lights of  other cars out in front and above us as they snaked up the switchbacks.

We got to the top with about 45 minutes until sunrise. It was cold, VERY cold. The tempature change was a pretty big shock to us after a week of 80 degree weather. Now it all made sense why Anthony forced everyone to bring their heavy winter coats to Hawaii.

We walked over to a nice spot, found a rock and waited for the sun. Even the view in the predawn light was amazing. We could see the milky way (Anthony’s first time) and some of the planets (Venus, Mercury and Jupiter)quite clearly. Jupiter itself was huge and quite bright. Over the next 45 mins the whole sky transformed, so many colors and hues. Slowly, you could see down into the crater. Then slowly you could see more and more details. Then a tiny pin dot of yellow appeared on the horizon. That dot then grew into a huge ball of fire and light that bathed the whole world in light. Behind us a Hawaiian native began chanting a Hawaiian prayer. It was an amazing sunrise.

Once the sun was up, we looked behind us and a HUGE V shaped shadow spread out behind the Haleakala, this was of course the shadow of the volcano. Very very cool.

We drove down slowly, stopping to see different cinder cones. The weird thing was it took about 15 mins before we even hit the cloud layer (4000 ft.) It was also a bit scary to see how close we had been driving to the edge on the way up and how far the drop down really was..

We had only one stop on the way back to the ship, an emergency bathroom stop for Jayme. We made the stop at the gift shop that serves breakfast and were able to get in right as they were opening. We made it back to the ship and all three of us fell right back into bed.

 

 

Maui (day 6) JOSHUA’S BIRTHDAY

We woke at sunrise and from our balcony we were able to watch the ship slowly drift into our first port, Kahului on the island of Maui.

After each of us showered and dressed. Jayme gave his birthday card to his Dad, IT was a super cute moment. We then headed down for breakfast in the Skyline resturant. On our last cruise we loved eating in “fancy” restaurant for breakfast. This time on the Pride of America, it was not quite as cool, but we still enjoyed it. For Jayme, it was a bit much, he really is use to his food being ready and waiting when he gets to the table.. At least for breakfast. He is still working on the whole order the food, wait for the food and the eat the food.. AKA delayed gratification. We finished our breakfast as the ship came in to port and docked. So once we finished eating we only had to take a slight detour up to our stateroom and then walk off the ship. Once in our stateroom we emptied Jayme’s small suitcase and filled it with all of the dirty laundry and then walked off the ship. At the end of the dock we climbed right on the Thrifty car rental shuttle and within a few minutes we were at the airport car rental location. Renting cars while on the cruise was a lot faster and much more enjoyable (with the exception of Hilo, more on that later). We were given an Dodge Caliber and within 10 mins were driving to our first location, the laundromat. Using our iPad we found several laundromats near the airport, we picked the Kahului Laundromat. We asked the nice lady if they provided full service, which they did. So we handed over Jayme’s suitcase. The review online for the laundromat was less then accurate, everyone was great and it was fairly cheap as well. After dropping off our dirty clothes we turned the car towards the Maui ocean center aka an aquarium. We found the aquarium with no issues and it was a nice drive to the other side of the island. The admission price was steep. Over $70.00 for the 3 of us, not the costliest leg of our vacation, but it was pricy for what they really offered. The aquarium property size looked huge from the outside, but most of the buildings turned out to be part of the dockside mall area and not part of the aquarium itself. The Oregon aquarium, on the coast, by comparison is much larger and cheaper. But what they did have was nice, also it was not very crowded so we had the chance to have some interactions with some staff members who described and talked a bit more about the exhibits as we walked around. Jayme loved the sharks, from the moment we entered that was what he was looking for. We saw some white reef sharks and black reef sharks. Joshua, kinda was camera crazy, within 10 minutes he leaned over to Anthony and said in a concerned voice “I already have taken 250 photos, I only have room for about 300 more…”. We hung around to see the green turtles be fed, but watching turtles eat romaine lettuce is kinda a non-event. Still, Jayme enjoyed the interaction with the other kids and even tried to answer one of the questions the keeper asked. But by the time we made it to the deep sea exhibits, Jayme was started to nod off and wanting to be carried. We sat down and watched the predators get fed and Jayme fell asleep in Anthony’s lap. Anthony carried Jayme out and we headed back to the ship for a bite to eat in the Aloha buffet and a nice nap. After filling up on grub and energy we walked off the ship again, jumped in the car and headed over to laundromat. We stowed our freshly laundered clothing in the trunk and head out to go shopping. We drove from Kahului back to the other side of Maui, past the Ocean center and up Highway 30 to Lahaina. We had dinner reservations at the Old Lahaina luau. But first we wanted to hit some of the Lahaina oceanfront shops and stop by Hilo Hatties. Hilo Hatties sells nothing but expenisive tourist junk, and we had a list of people we wanted to shop for. We also wanted to pick up some cheap Hawaiian shirts to wear to the luau, but this proved problematic. We got to Hilo Hatties, and quickly realized that mostly everything carried a UBER tourist tax markup. Hawaiian shirts started at $80.00. So we picked up only a few little things for workmates and then walked down to the oceanfront stores. After killing some time and spending too much money on some t-shirts for Jayme (Del Sol.. They change color in the sun), we headed back to the car. But before we gave up and drove to dinner, we stopped by a Hawaiian outlet store. This proved to be a good stop, we picked up a Aloha shirt for each of us. Once we got to the car we changed and headed down to the luau. Over a year ago Anthony ordered 3 tickets. One for Josh, one for himself and one child ticket…. just in case. He also paid extra to be at the traditional seating, low tables and pillows for seats. As we approched the luau area, cute hawaian boys in native wear directed traffic. The main lot was full so we have to park over a bit in the overflow parking area. As we got to the check in area, we gave our name and were handed our tickets and two commemorative menus. They directed us over to a long entry line and told us not to worry as all seating was pre-assigned. This didn’t seem to sink in with most of the other guests who cut in line or held spaces for HUGE groups who cut in front of us. But for once, in the many, many times this has happened to us, WE got the last laugh. Because he who books first laughs the last laugh… or something like that. Did we mention Anthony booked over a year in advance? Once we got to the front of the line, we were given fresh flower leis and offered water or a mixed drink (Mai Tai). We then were handed off to our waiter who marched us past everyone and then all the way down to the very front table, dead center and only a few feet from the front of the stage and told us the first 3 seats (nearest the stage) were ours. Because he who books first laughs the last laugh. HA We ordered some free drinks and plopped our flower leis down at our table and started to explore the area. The luau was right on the beach. They had several native demonstrations going on. Tiki carving, grass weaving, and some of the drums that would be used for the music later. Jayme was able to play with a few of the Hawaiian rattles and bang on a few of the small drums. When we were shown to our seats our waiter told us to make sure to get over to the imu (sand roasting pit) early. So we headed over and got a prime spot for the undigging of the pig. It is kinda a non-event watching guys undig a hole, but Jayme liked it. And once the pig was out, it was dinner time. We headed back to our seats and soon were escorted over to the buffet line. We decided that Jayme was going to try everything. So he got a taste of everything they had to offer. Octopus, raw salmon lomi, raw ahi lomi, and squid, crab salad, pork,taro salad and of course, poi. He loved everything but the poi & taro salad. The show was really good. With our front row seats, it felt like we were on stage half of the time. Jayme bounced his legs and shook his little butt during each of the dances, drummed his hands, and BIG smiles for the whole show. The show had a lot of very cute Hawaiian boys, oh and there were some girls too… if your into that sort of thing. It showcased the history of the hula and how it has changed as Hawaii and it’s people have changed. A very good show. The show started right before sunset and it was dark as we left the luau. On our way back to the ship we did get another show. Six cop cars, all with lights flashing  lined the road as we drove back. The quote that immediately ran through our heads “the Gods are angry from all of this celebrating”. We got back to the ship around 10:30pm, Jayme was asleep in the back seat. All of the free parking spots by the ship were gone, so we drove a bit further down and parked in a questionable dirt lot. We didn’t worry about it too much as we were only heading into the ship take a nap….

Pride of America (day 5)

Saturday Morning of our Trip, we woke up with the plan to climb Diamond Head Crater. But no one other then Anthony wanted to get up that early. So we decided to spend the day at the resort rather then try and rush to the top of the crater and then rush back to check out of the hotel.

After our horrible lunch on property the day before we decided to go local rather then tourist. About 3 blocks away was a locals diner called “The Coffee House”. Everything was right out of the 1960’s, from tables to decor. Menu’s were tattered and stained, tables a bit wobbly and sticky. FOOD was great, service personal and attentive. The only issue we had was Anthony’s order was hashbrowns was very over cooked. When the bill came, so did an apology from our server and she had removed it from the check, without us even asking. We loved the Coffee House.

After breakfast we wandered back to the room and packed up our bags, checked out and checked our bags into bag check. Our shuttle was arriving later at 12:00 to take us to our next “hotel”, the Pride of America cruise ship.

We had some time to kill so we walked up into the main drag area of Waikki and then back down into the little village area of our hotel. We got Starbucks and picked up some Izzi sodas. It didn’t take long before Joshua started to get sick, we don’t know if it was the heat, the Izzi sodas or the milk/soy from his coffee, but Joshua started burping like Charlie Bucket on two bottles of fizzing lifting drinks.

It was about this time that we got a call from our shuttle service that he would be late again, so this gave Joshua time to run to the restroom and try and clear out his passage ways (no nice way to say that really).

When our shuttle arrived we all loaded up and in. Within a few minutes, we were at the port and we got into the boarding line. On our last NCL cruise we were met at the curb by porters who took our bags away, well in Honolulu you have to cue up in a long line to place your bags on the scanner beltway. It was a bit annoying, but the line moved fast enough for us.

As we got to the actual cue lines to check in Hawaiian natives in traditional “tourist” garb greeted the crowds. Jayme was given a palm woven headband, which he wanted, but did not want to wear. So as we worked our way though the line it bounced between the dad’s heads.

Before we had departed, Anthony had to get Jayme’s caseworker to sign off on a bunch of forms for NCL that NCL’s website stated we just had to have to board with a minor. Of course, they never asked for any ID or paperwork for Jayme. But other then that waste of time, Check in easy.

Right before we boarded the ship we stopped at the kids club sign in desk and got some information on what Jayme would get to do in the kids club.

Once on board we had to walk over to the customer service desk and pick up a child size life vest. We then started our own self guided tour of the ship. First stop was to the kids club to sign Jayme up and let him see what it was all about. We explained Jayme’s special needs and none of the staff seemed to have any concerns.

After kids club we decided to explore a bit more, but before we got to far then they announced that the rooms were open and ready, so we headed down to our room. Anthony had booked us a portside balcony room. Jayme loved the room and really liked the fact we would all be sleeping together in the same room (something that was hard for him to switch back to when we got home) At first Jayme didn’t really understand that his bed would be pulled out of the sofa every night. We didn’t really understand his level of concern until later that night.

After some quick unpacking, hungry we headed to the Aloha Buffet for some grub. We all had a nice lunch. We did a lot of our meals at the Aloha Buffet as it was easy to feed Jayme. We also started eating a lot of fresh fruit. The golden pineapple was good, but watermelon seemed to be on our plates for each meal.

With hunger vanquished, we started to explore the ship deck by deck. Jayme had questions about everything, from the smoke stacks to how the ship ran. The one questions he asked over and over was ‘When will we start moving?”.

After a day on deck and in the ship exploring and walking, we headed down for dinner at Skyline restaurant. We had a nice dinner as the ship pulled out of the harbor and headed out to open sea. On our last cruise we ran right into a Hurricane, so as we pulled out and the waters got a bit bumpy we started to get concerned that we would be on another “fun” cruise. We talked a bit to our server and he did warn us that Hawaiian waters are bumpy, but the worst night would be on our return sale to Honolulu. So with that to look forward to, we headed back to our stateroom.

As we opened the door Jayme became amazed. Before we left we flipped the turndown marker on our door, so as he entered he found the beds turned down and more importantly he got to see his bed made up. He was THRILLED and started jumping up and down and yelling thank you, thank you, thank you! It was a nice way to end the day.

 

Honolulu and Waikiki (Day 4)

For our last morning on Molokai, Anthony and Jayme got up early (Again with the birds) and watched the sunrise from the Lanai. Anthony then served us everything in the fridge that we had left over. We had hot dogs, fresh oranges, toast, Strawberry Guava Jam and POG.

After a final walk on the beach we spent the 20 mins cleaning the house and packing up all of our stuff. We had intended to run a few loads of laundry the night before, but the laundry room was closed by the time we got back from dinner. It was simply amazing how many dirty clothes we had after only 4 days. We designated Joshua’s bag as the dirty laundry bag and spent some time balancing the bag weights.

Once we all said goodbye to our condo we headed off to the airport but along the way we did 2 stops. The first was to the cemetery again to leave our lai’s on several of the family grave sites. The rest of the family would be arriving within the week with Grandma’s remains, so we wanted to leave something for her from us.

We then drove to the POST A NUT post office. We arrived before the post office opened, so we played around outside of the post office, took photo’s and played chase. Once the post office was open we decorated two unhusked coconuts. One we mailed off to our friend John, who had loaned us his uber camera for the trip, and the other one for Jayme’s classroom. We also took the opportunity to mail back some of our new treasures and souvenirs.

Once back the airport we drove over to the car rental return area. After waiting for long time we got some to come out and help us check our car back in. While doing the return, the check in lady told us she saw an scratch on the car that wasn’t there before (but it was). At this time… Anthony kinda freaked out, this was not a happy moment for him. We had to give them our insurance paperwork and fill out a form. It wasn’t until later while reviewing our photos we noticed that on day one of our trip you can see the scratch in the car. We have yet to hear anything from the car rental company, so perhaps they have figured that out too. But that didn’t stop Anthony from adding the scratch damage plan to each of our following car rentals on each island.

So we checked into our flight… did we mention how SMALL the airport is? One check in desk, one bag scanner for the whole airport and only one gate. Thanks to all of the freak out at the car rental window we only had a few minutes to wait for our flight, yet strangely were were still first to the gate. Right before they opened the gate a whole plane load of people arrived at our small gate and lined up in front of us. So we ended up being last on the plane, yet first to the gate.

Our flight to Honolulu was via Lania City. So we had the chance to see another Hawaiian island. Joshua was able to get a window seat after the plane emptied and got some really great photos of the airport and the island. Jayme was super brave on this trip and used the tiny bathroom onboard without any issues! Both legs of the flight were very short and before we knew it we were landing in Honolulu.

Again our plane landed in the inter-island termaial, we headed to the baggage claim area. They were nice enough to turn the baggage carrousel on for our 3 bags. The carrousel ran for all of 30 seconds, did we mention the smallest factor of this gate? For this leg of our trip we relied on shuttle service rather then car rental. Anthony had booked us with hawaii23 shuttle, which is a private shuttle company. We called the company and the owner who was picking us up apologized as he was running late and offered to let us join other group of people he was picking up and the fare would be no charge. He told us to head to the median and look for a lady named Allison. It was pretty easy to find the other group and alot of fun to walk up and ask if she was Allison (very funny reaction). Mark, the owner, picked us all up a few minutes later and gave us mini tour of Honolulu as he drove us to our hotel, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Rainbow tower.

The shuttle drop off point is a fair walk from our hotel as the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a HUGE resort of 6 different towers. It was like a big downtown Disney shopping area. We got to the check in desk and our room was ready! Oceanfront view with a direct view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach…. BREATH TAKING!

We got to the room and dumped our stuff. The first thing we headed for was the AC. We really liked our condo on Molokai, but we really needed some AC now. Anthony hit the switch and nothing happened. Everyone was hungry and after being on a plane and a shuttle, we wanted to move. So we decided to worry about the AC later and headed down into the village and wandered around the little shops.

One store we found was the Honolulu cookie company. They sell shortbread, Joshua’s favorite. We then found a row of resturants. Pizza,  Asian noodles and a New York deli that served all day breakfast. The choice was easy for us, we love New York deli food and could eat breakfast for all three meals.

We walked up to to the hostess and told her there were three of us, she told us all she had was indoor seats. That was fine for us so she took us in and then in deeper in to the furtherst table in the back in the BAR area. This was a strange place to put a family with a small child, but we were hungry so we didn’t think to much of it. Menu’s looked great and right away both of us started drooling over the sliced corn beef pictures… We love good corn beef and in a New York deli restaurant this should be pretty good. Jayme ordered pancakes with a tall glass of milk and we decided to split the corn beef eggs Benedict.

After waiting for a pretty long time our waiter came and took our order. Then a long time later our drinks came out. Jayme being Jayme took his drink and started to inhale his beverage. Half way through his first GULP his face turns green and he spits his milk back in to glass and sets it down. His only words are “This milk tastes bad.” The milk had turned, not just turned but was clumpy. We quickly waved over the hostess and complained. The only thing she said was “Oh…. was that regular or skim?” not I am so sorry your child just drank curdled milk or any other type of apology. Anthony asked for orange juice as a replacement and Jayme was happy. She left and just as we expected the manager to come over to our table in outer mongolian to apologize, our food arrived. Jayme had a 2 big pancakes and was in heaven, Our food….. well… dry rubbery poached eggs (how you make dry poached eggs I will never know) on top of CANNED dog food AKA canned corn beef hash slurry on two burnt english muffins, toped with hollandaise sauce with a nice thick skin formed on top. This all became too much for us, between the scratch on the car, spoiled milk being served to our son and now rubbery congealed burnt CANNED DOG FOOD. After Jayme finished his pancakes we paid for Jayme’s food and stormed out. No manager in sight, no one to complain to in sight. This restaurant has no excuse for serving poor food, they are on property of a good hotel chain, where the cost of the rooms per night is not cheap. They should be closed down. Thank heavens for ABC stores as they saved us. After our horrible lunch we popped in and got some cold sandwiches and sodas and retreated to our balcony in our hotel room.

After lunch part two, a very responsive maintenance team and the welcome blast of A/C. We all got into our swimsuits and headed down to the beach. We walked along the sand until we reached the Outrigger Hotel and their concrete dock. At that point we turned around and walked back in the water. It only took 2.3 seconds for Jayme to be soaked from head to toe, he just layed down in the water and started splashing water on his body. Jayme then started dragging Joshua in deeper and deeper. Joshua finally gave in and towed Jayme about 10 feet out to sea and started to toss him around. Jayme was shrieking with delight and loving every minute of it. Anthony headed over and checked out some hotel towels and got to sit and watch the maddness.

After we cleaned up from the beach we walked over to one of the several pools. The one we found had two water tubes and was themed to be cave grotto. Jayme swam for a LONG time.

We headed back to the room and changed for dinner. We walked up Wakiki beach looking for dinner. After a long walk we found the California Pizza Kitchen, Jayme’s favorite. The cool thing was it was our waitress last day as she had just been hired at Disney’s Aulani resort. Also just as we sat down for dinner the police officer’s memorial torch rely started. Ton’s of police cars lights and sirens and then over a thousand people marching poured by our balcony table.

By the time we walked back to our room it was a little after 9pm and we had one tired little boy. He was out as soon as his head hit the pillow and so were we.

Molokai, East Wet Side (Day 3)

We woke up early with our 4am Rooster and various bird wake up call and had another yummy breakfast on our lanai. Josh and Jayme took a early morning walk on the beach and tormented all the ghost crabs.

After breakfast, we headed into town and got some drinks from the Friendly store again and picked up some fresh donuts and pastries from the local bakery. We planned to be out all day, today was our off road adventure.

When Joshua was last on Molokai, he was taken to a special beach and a cave with some petroglyphs. So we found the location on google maps via Anthony’s iPad and headed off. The first road we came to turned off to a long red dirt road. Being VERY brave we turned our Nitro and headed up and down the red dirt roads. After about 15 mins, we pulled off and started to get a bit worried that we where on the wrong road. We seemed to be going along the edges of farm lots and didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the beach, which we could see down the mountain. Some further inspection on the iPad reveled us firmly centered in no man’s land. So we cut back and hunted for the main highway again.

After some further google maps research and another dead end road, we found the correct dirt road to the beach. We drove for about 20 mins before we came to a big steel gate… locked. We utterly failed to find the beach or the caves. So we gave up and headed to the apparent safety of Highway 450.

We drove down Highway 450 east, it only took a few turns of the road before the wet side greenery of the island exploded on the mountains and roadside. About 30 mins down the road, the first sign that the road is narrowing appears in the form of a one lane bridge, a few minutes later the road itself becomes a single lane, and shortly after that the roadside looks more like the Indianian Jones ride themed queue line rather than a road that is suppose to accommodate 2 lanes of traffic. But the trip was completely worth it.

The views were unbeliveable, at one point the tiny road drove down to about 3 feet above sea level, right by the crashing blue and white waves and then we climbed to top of the high sea walls and saw amazing views of Maui and Lanai.

At the end of Highway 450 we ended up at Halawa beach park and Halawa bay. It was here that Jayme was baptized in the Hawaiian waters. Jayme has NO fear of water or the ocean, so we had to work pretty hard to keep him from diving head first into the water alone. We told Jayme as we drove that we were going to a special beach just for him and it truly was, again all alone apart from a few locals who lived on the bay.

As we headed back we stopped by 2 of the catholic churches, searching for the church that Grandma and Grandpa got married in. Sadly we didn’t find it because it had burned to the ground just a few years ago.

We stopped for lunch on the way back and had another local lunch. Teri beef, Mac salad, rice and lots of spam. (What is it with Spam and Sorensens?)

After a nap at the condo, Joshua called some of his relatives on the island and within 10 mins we were getting a escorted tour of the Kaunakakai cemetary. This was another bitter sweet moment. Joshua’s Grandmother’s remains were set to arrive a few days after our visit. One of Joshua’s great aunts showed us Joshua’s Great Grandfathers and Great Great Grandfathers grave sites as well as his Grandmothers future grave site. This was an emotionally hard moment for Joshua.

After the visit to the cemetery Jayme got his way and we headed out for a pizza dinner. Molokai Pizza…. ok Hawaiian’s might be able to pull off amazing burgers but pizza… wow. Horrible service, everything was over priced.

The restaurant is right next to the dock were the fishermen come in each morning. So when we saw the fresh fish of the day special we were a bit shocked to get fresh FROZEN fish. It was so bad that after waiting for 20 mins to pay our check we walked up to the counter and paid the take out window and left no tip.

Once we got home we put Jayme to bed and opened a bottle of rum. Coconut rum with POG, our new official family drink (while on Molokai).

 

Molokai, North and West (Day 2)

We were awakened by the sound of the wild.. For once it was not Jayme.. Apparently (Joshua failed to mention this) there are a TON of birds on the island. Roosters, Songbirds, you name it.. Birds. We did awaken to perfect weather and took breakfast on our lanai. Anthony had a spread of fresh oranges, honey buttered multi grain toast, strawberry yogurt and big glasses of ice cold POG.

After a morning walk on our little beach we packed the car and headed to the north side of the island via the Kalae Highway to Pala’ au State Park. Along the way we got to see a bit of Kaunakakai (the big city) of the island in the daylight. There are no stoplights on Molokai and not really any stop signs. Molokai is NOT a tourist island, something that was quickly evident once we got to the Kalaupapa overlook at Pala’ au State Park, we were all alone.

We walked 2 short trails; the first to phallic rock, which is a HUGE stone that looks just like…. well in Jayme’s words like a big turtle. Along the trail Anthony started talking to the birds. He would chirp and the birds would chirp back. It was a true Polgara moment.

The second trail lead to the breath taking scenic overview of historic Kalalupapa. Kalaupapa was once home to banished Hawaiian’s who suffered from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy). You can take a mule ride down the sea cliffs for a short visit. But due to Jayme’s age this was as close as we got.

On our way back into “town” we stopped at an old coffee mill for 2nd breakfast and some island coffee.

Next stop was Purdy’s Natural Macadamia Nuts in Ho’olehua. Again we were the only visitors. We got a private free tour of the small nut farm and learned how the Macadamia nuts grow, harvested and processed. We even got a chance to wack open some Macadamia nuts! We bought two big bags of Macadamian’s and a bottle of Macadamia honey.

It was still pretty early in the morning so we decided to drive over to the dry side of the island. We drove up highway 460 and visited the tiny town of Maunaloa before turning northwest and ending up at Papohaku Beach, One of the longest and finest beaches in the Hawaiian Islands. This beach extends over three miles of coastline and is more than 300 yards wide. Again we were all alone. We searched for shells and played tag in the red/white sand. Our isolation was only broken at the end of our visit by a Hawaian beach bum who wandered by. We did have exciting walk back as we walked barefoot to the car. The sand on the beach was warm and lovely, but the sand on the trail was hotter then a imu! We all yelled, bounced and ran for it.

Everyone was hungry when we made it back to Kaunakakai. We decided to have lunch in a locals place (Auntie Ruby’s). Joshua ordered the Loco Moco, two hamburger patties drowned in brown gravy and 2 scoops of white rice, and mac and potato salad. Anthony had the Teri Beef and Jayme a cheese burger. After lunch, we stopped by the Friendly Grocery Store (that’s it’s name) and picked up fixings for a hot dog and bean dinner.

 

Aloha! (Day One)

Over a year ago  it was decided to give Joshua the best 30th birthday present ever. So for over the course of a year Anthony has been planning, plotting and fretting. Tuesday May 24th, the Phoenix Project AKA surprise the heck out of Joshua sprang into action. For those of you who read our blog you know that back for Christmas, Joshua got a special christmas card letting him know of the upcoming “road trip”. (see post here)

All four of us woke up and had a nice breakfast at home. Anthony and Jayme packed the car with our suitcases for our “Road trip”. Joshua had been told what to pack the night before and complied well with his orders. By 8:00am the car was ready and everyone piled in.

Anthony pointed the car towards I-205 north and off to the airport we headed. Joshua had been told we had to pick up our rental car, since our current car is on it’s last legs. As we turned onto airport way Anthony gave Joshua a fake trip itinerary to keep him off his guard. It was a wonderful tale of a house rental in Longbeach Washington and a cruise to Alaska to pan for gold and visit a fish factory. Joshua began reading and only popped his head up when Anthony missed the turn off and pulled into the arrivals lane. It was at that point Joshua began verbally asking what the heck was going on.

Anthony pulled the car over and clicked on his iPod, Hawaiian Roller Coaster started playing and Anthony announced that the plan might be a wee bit different then what Joshua was currently reading. Jayme and Sam then yelled surprise and Sam started taking pictures.

Jayme was the happiest person in the world at this point as he LOVES airplanes and had voiced his objection to having to take a long car ride. As soon as Anthony told Joshua and him that we would fly rather then drive he was thrilled.

We unloaded the car and did our goodbyes to Uncle Sam and then the three of us walked into the airport. We headed down to the Hawaiian Airlines check in desk and had no issues checking our bags through to our final destination – Molokai. This was the first bittersweet moment for Joshua, having just lost his Hawaiian Grandmother. Molokai was her home island. This would not be the last bitter sweet moment, her recent death haunted our trip.

Unlike our plane trip to Salt Lake city we had plenty of time to kill before our plane started to load. So we loaded up on lots of snacks, water and juices. We also had time to let Jayme run around in an empty gate and burn off some of his abundant energy.

Originally Anthony had booked our seats on row 30 (for Joshua’s 30th) which gave us a window. When Jayme came along we had to give up the window and move to the back of the plane and three center seats. Just for reference, Hawaiian airlines flies 767-300R wide bodies out of Portland. The cabin was clean and open. No seat back video and limited overhead entertainment. You can rent a $15.00 TV device, but we had two iPads, two iPods, one iPhone and one gameboy all stocked with movies, books and games. This also marked start of Jayme’s addiction to angry birds. The flight itself was about 5 1/2 hours and not a bad flight. Jayme did really well and didn’t have any issues, and in fact got a little bored.. He did like the in-flight restrooms however.

We landed in Honolulu a little bit after 1:00pm local time. As we exited the plane, we walked out of the gate area and we were met by a gentleman in a blue hawaiian shirt holding a sign that had each of our names written on it. He had a lei for each of us. Super embarrassing moment for Joshua, totally cool moment for Jayme.

After taking a bunch of photos with our new leis, we tried to figure out where to go next. We had a Island Air flight to Molokai that was flying out of the inter-island terminal. We ended up taking the wiki wiki (hawaiian for quick quick) bus to another terminal. This terminal was hot and crowded so we all took turns running to the restroom to strip off socks and undershirts and throw on shorts. We then had a quick lunch of airport pizza hut pizza (and a mixed drink for Joshua). We then walked down to the inter-island terminal which became our new home for 4 hours.

As we arrived in the inter-island terminal an early flight to Molokai was loading. The gate agent told us that we could take this one or wait the 45 mins for our scheduled flight. But, if we took this flight we would not get our luggage until later. We foolishly decided to wait, but would have done it differently had we known that the next two flights to Molokai were going to be canceled…

Our flight did not start boarding until a little after 6pm. Jayme had a really hard time dealing with this, he ended up having to lay down with his head on one of our jackets and had to work very hard to keep his body from being silly.

The flight to Molokai was a short 25 mins, we spent more time taxiing then flying. Once at the grand Molokai one gate “airport”, our luggage arrived quickly and we walked across the huge airport one lane official parking area to the Alamo car rental building. Joshua requested we upgrade to a bigger car, he had just rented a economy car for his Grandmother funeral and he did not enjoy it. So we got a Dodge Nitro and added the pre-fuel refill at $4.75 a gallon since the main gas station on the island was currently $5.75 a gallon.

We then drove to our new home for 3 nights, the Molokai Shores condominiums. We got in late, and everyone was tired and hungry. So once we had inspected our condo and dropped off our bags we headed back into town to look for some groceries and some dinner.

We stopped in one of the local grocery stores and got bread, some oranges, yogurt, honey butter and a big jug of POG. And then did the drive through at Molokai Burgers.

Back at the condo, we spread out our Molokai Burgers on our lanai table and had a nice dinner over looking the condo grounds and the ocean. Dinner turned out to be fantastic, Anthony is not a burger fan yet even he liked it. Yummy fries and everything was good and fresh. With food in our tummys, everyone started to get tired.

A quick inspection of the bedrooms discovered that the 2nd floor bedroom, up the spiral staircase had the smaller bed, so that became Jayme’s bedroom. But knowing his silly body in the mornings we put him to bed and moved a large chair to block his ability to come down the stairs without help.

Sleep came very easily after our long day and yet, morning and our new chicken friends came very quickly.

 

 

Salt Lake City Trip 2011

Several months ago we got a phone call from Shiloh, second eldest Sorensen boy (Joshua being #1). He was planning his May wedding and asked Joshua to be his best man. So after committing to that trip of course, Jayme entered our lives. So this trip quickly became not only a celebration for Shiloh and Taylor but Jayme’s introduction to the Sorensen clan.

All four of us flew out at 7:00am on May 13th, a Friday morning. We got up early at 5:15am and even with all the extra time, getting 3 adults and one child to the airport on time was a chore. We made it to the airplane with time to spare, but not by much.

This was Jayme’s first airplane ride. Because of some of Jayme’s special needs and issues with sounds, there were some well founded concerns that traveling by airplane might be more then he could handle. So for the past month, not only have we been doing the normal welcome to our family stuff, we have also been prepping him for the plane ride. Plane coloring books, airplane bedtime stories, building lego airports and lego jumbo jets. We even took a dry run to the airport the week before the trip.

So when the big day came, it was all smooth sailing, with no issues. As we exited the plane, Sam and Joshua took the lead then Jayme followed by Anthony. As Jayme got to the front of the plane and we were about to walk off, the co-pilot asked if Jayme would like to see the cockpit. As soon as Jayme got the ok from Anthony, he dashed in. As Anthony walked in behind him, Jayme was ensconced in the co-pilot seat pressing all the buttons and firing off question after question to the pilot. The pilot was really good and answered all his questions, and even let Jayme pretend to fly the plane. It was incredibly rewarding to see all at work pay off with this great experience.

We found our rental car and headed to our hotel, Little America, which is a nice hotel. The room had 2 european queen beds, which are really double beds. This is normally not a big deal as we each just take a bed, but with Jayme in the mix, it meant that someone had to share. So none of us really got as good of night’s sleep as we would have liked to. The bathtub was huge and most importantly the toilet was quiet and hence not “scary” for Jayme. After exploring our hotel and Jayme had a chance to bounce on all of the beds we headed over to Shiloh and Taylor’s apartment.

The drive was a short one to the apartment, but it took a while to find the right building as someone in all their brilliance decided that H & I goes before A,B, C. As we walked up to the apartment building, Joshua’s Mother was standing outside. It was our first emotional moment as Grandma and Grandson met for the first time. Jayme instantly liked her, no shyness or issues, almost an instant acceptance that his was HIS Grandmother. We had talked a lot about her and the other family members, we think this helped to take the scary part of meeting new people away.

Once we got into the apartment we got to meet Taylor and Anthony got to meet Shiloh (the last Sorensen) for the first time. Jayme, of course, got to meet his cousin Aspen. The two of them over the course of the weekend, became instant friends. It was an interesting experience as all four of the Sorensen boys were there along with Grandma & Grandpa. Our visit was a short one, as everyone had errands to run and a wedding rehearsal to attend. So after a bit we all made our way over to the church.

After the rehearsal we all headed over to the bowling alley. Back when Joshua was asked to be best man, we had decided to throw Shiloh a bachelor party. Over time that concept had evolved in to a joint bachelor and bachelorette party. Because the rehearsal was running a bit long, Anthony and Jayme decided to head to the bowling alley ahead of everyone to make sure everything was set up. So Grandma gave Anthony directions and sent him in the opiside direction of the bowling alley. Thank goodness for the ipad! Poor Jayme and Anthony were driving around for every trying to find the place only to get a phone call from Josh, from the bowling alley asking where they where.

The party itself was a huge hit. All four Sorensen boys got time to hang out and relax. The kids had a blast bowling!

Wedding day morning we were invited to family breakfast at the Great Grandparents house. Joshua’s Dad cooked up a great breakfast and this was another great opportunity for Jayme to some more face time with his new family. Aspen and Jayme spent a long time playing together and exploring the backyard and gardens.

Once we got back to the hotel, we had a mad dash to get everyone dressed. Sam came with us to fetch his belt. Joshua looked super dapper in his rented tux. Jayme of course looked amazing… if not a little unfinished. In preparation for the trip we had bought him a new suit and new dress shoes. Well, once it came time to dress him up, we had two failures. First – we forgot his dress shoes so we defaulted to his high tops with red flames. We both felt like parental failures but were dealing with it until it was time to put his neck tie on. As we placed it around his neck and began to tighten it up, it dissolved. Total panic now set in for the dads, Jayme could of cared less. We grabbed the sewing kit from our bag and decided we would try and fix it once we got to the church.

As we arrived at the parking lot of the church, Joshua dived out of the car and ran into the church. We were not late, but we where not as early as the best man should be. Anthony sat in the car for 15 mins trying to sew Jayme’s necktie together. Got it around his neck and it looked like a birds nest. So we had to forget about the tie as well. Our new son, who we wanted to show off was not properly dressed for a wedding or for church, but yes, he was still cute.  But it mattered to us.  In the end no one else seem to notice or care, we even had people tell us how much they loved his flame high tops.. Philistines…

The wedding was very nice and so was the post wedding family reception. Jayme did great at both events and the adults had fun as well. The highlight for Jayme was of course.. Trains. Eve (the parties hostess) had a hand carved wooden train set sitting in her window, and she let Jayme take it down and play with it. Her coolness points hit the roof in Jayme’s book of cool adults for sure.

We woke Sunday morning will only one really event we had to attend. And that was the formal dinner reception late that evening. So after two days of boring adult stuff we decided to have Sunday be about Jayme. So we planned a day at the Salt Lake City zoo. We invited a large group of family members and ended up with a good sized group. Sam, Taylor, Aspen, Grandmom, Anthony, Jayme, Joshua and Nova.

We met up with everyone at Shiloh’s favorite place for breakfast, a pizza shop. The brunch was nice but the company was the best part. Jayme was so thrilled to be surrounded by HIS family.

After breakfast we drove up to Hoggle Zoo. First thing on the list was take the train, Jayme is a HUGE train freak. So learning from our mistake of waiting until the end of the visit to the Oregon Zoo train, we correctly choice to do it right away and avoid the “Can we ride the train now?” montra from our son.

It was an amazing visit. Jayme had a blast spending time with his cousin Aspen and both of them loved being the center of attention from so many family members. Sadly the visit to the zoo was cut short because everyone had to run errands before the reception. But we had an amazing time.

Since we didn’t have a clue where the reception was we headed over to (Great)Grandmom and (Great)Grandpa’s house. We changed our clothes into something a bit nicer. Before we left, Jayme started to ask questions about who all the people on the wall were. Jayme’s new Great Grandmother came over and gave him the tour of all the faces, telling him a bit about each of his new cousins and 2nd uncles and great great’s ect. It was a wonderful and moment for Jayme and her and one that would become a bitter sweet memory for all of us before the week was out.

We followed (Great)Grandmom and (Great)Grandpa to the reception which was held in a greek restaurant. The dinner was nice, Anthony had ordered the chicken, which turned out to be a mistake. Jayme had the kids meal, which also turned out to be a mistake. But Grandma saved the day by sharing with Jayme and he ended up eating most of his new Grandmother’s fish dinner.

It was a wonderful reception, but after the gifts were open and speeches and toasts made we had to start to work the room to say our goodbyes.

Right before we left, cousin Nova came over carrying Jayme and she made an announcement. Jayme had asked her to marry him, she of course having good taste had accepted. Anthony warned them both that they had to wait until Jayme was at least 18.

The drive to the airport was quick and the flight home was fast and pretty easy on everyone. Jayme feel asleep and had some ear discomfort as he woke as we descended, but was able to control himself so amazingly well.. SO not the child we had been told to expect…