Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hawaii #2

I promise this is the last post on Hawaii. Did I mention how much fun we had? 9 days and 8 nights of vacation with no responsibilities or anything that we had to do. It was wonderful!
 We spent quite a bit of time hiking up dangerous, steep and muddy trails.
All the trails in Kauai either go up or down!

 This hike was right along the north shore, if we fell of the trail we would have been in the ocean.

 The lookout down to Ke'e beach, where the trail started. This was the perfect spot to watch for whales and have a quick snack.

 After crossing a river at the end of our hike we reached this beautiful beach where people had stacked rocks in towers.

 Is there really a trail here?
Our next hike was up the Sleeping Giant, which was about 4 miles from our hotel.

 Yes, those are other crazy people going up the trail ahead of us.

 Shawn standing along the top of Sleeping Giant.

 That rock in the picture behind Shawn is where he was standing in the previous picture. It was high and steep! Have I mentioned that I have a serious problem with heights?

 A new dress and lei for our trip.

 It wouldn't be a true vacation without picking up fabric for my mom and the girls from a quilt store. This store had an amazing amount of beautiful batik fabrics.

Shawn decided to cross this hanging bridge over a river. I stayed behind to take a picture. He made it about halfway across before he decided it was a little to rickety to cross.
 The last two days of the trip we spent exploring the west side of the island and the beautiful trails of Waimea Canyon State Park.
 The view from all the lookouts were amazing.

 It was like the Grand Canyon! I couldn't believe how deep it was.

 Trying out the Canyon Rim trail. It was like a giant, mud slipper slid and if you sent off the side you would drop a few thousand feet.

 This picture is looking back at the slip and slide section right at the beginning of the trial.

 They had lots of rain while we were there, so we saw lots of waterfalls.

 Narrow and washed out? Sounds good to me.
This sign marked the safest trail we went on.

 Yep, another sign saying come on, walk here!

 A picture of the view from the 2.5 mile mark of the Nualolo Trail.
 One of my favorite parts was the luau that we attended. It was the Smith Family Luau and they had a beautiful gardens area to tour before a fabulous feast and finally an amazing dance show with live music. Our hotel had a buy one get one free coupon and we ended up only paying $86 for everything, which I thought was an amazing deal.

 Our rustic cabin up in Wiamea Canyon. The woodwork on the inside made the cabin look much nicer and I loved the fireplace, but they definitely needed to update their kitchen and bathrooms. It worked out really great to stay up here so we had more time to walk the trails and visit the lookouts before all the other people arrived. Shawn stayed in these cabins on his first trip to Kauai, so he wanted to try them out again.


A view on the trail we walked to see a waterfall. I love the rock archway.

It ended up pouring rain while we were on the cliff section of this trail which soaked us all the way through, but we did get to see 10 waterfalls on the opposite wall of the canyon. We didn't take a picture of them because we didn't want to ruin our camera.
Sunset in Kauai on our final day.
The only thing that we didn't take pictures of that I wished we would have was all the fabulous food we ate. Shawn and I are definitely fans of Ahi and Mahi Mahi. We had fish at least once a day. Our favorite spots were the Blue Dolphin which served amazing fish ($$$) and a small hidden bakery in Kilauea. The bakery had yummy soup, sandwiches and amazing chocolate dipped guave macaroons.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Almost 15 years!

Shawn and I met at Southwestern College more than 18 years ago, while running on the college cross country team. We got married between our junior and senior years, on August 8, 1998. I can hardly believe that 15 years will have gone by this August. 
Since then, we graduated a semester early, moved to Missouri for more schooling, I was hired as a middle school language arts teacher, got a dog, bought our first house, had Kolsen, both graduated with Masters degrees from Missouri, moved to Wisconsin for Shawn's first job, had our three girls (Karolyn, Kaylee and Kassidy), started homeschooling, and finally moved to Minnesota where we are both involved in our dream jobs, Shawn as a wildlife biologist and I'm a homeschooling mom.
While I was teaching language arts in Missouri, Shawn was working on a wildlife masters degree and travelled to Hawaii for a two week "field trip." Ever since then, Shawn has wanted to go back to Kauai. We've been saving a little bit of money each month and adding it to our Hawaii account for years. Adding that to the award money Shawn gets from work for all his hard work and some tax refund money allowed us to save up enough to go this year. YEAH!
In 15 years of marriage we have done LOTS of traveling and vacations to fun locations, but this is only the third time Shawn and I have been on vacation without the kids. Usually most of our vacation money goes towards gas money to go to Kansas to visit our families. After this trip, I would still say that I love travelling and vacationing with our whole family best, even though Shawn and I really enjoyed this time alone.
 After making sure Nana Kristi and Papa Tom could babysit for us, we scheduled our 9 night vacation! We left Nana and Papa with a list of school things to accomplish and a list of fun activities the kids wanted to do. We are so THANKFUL to have wonderful parents we are willing to watch all four of our kids for more than a week! I'm sure we'll be hitting up Shawn's parents for a future trip.
I would like to preface all the following pictures saying that I'm getting older and most of these were taken after hiking and snorkeling so my hair looks extra lovely.
 When we arrived we checked into our hotel and then went down to the beach to check out the sand.
I can't believe how beautiful the water was, turquoise is now my favorite color.

The lobby of our hotel.

There are lots of waterfalls on the island and Shawn wanted to see all of them! There were a few that you can view right from the road which was nice.

Some crazy people were walking right to the edge and looking over this waterfall.

Of course Shawn brought his binoculars with him and this was a familiar sight while wondering along the hiking trails. He did share them with me so I could watch whales along the coast.

We hiked quite a few mountainous trails on our trip and the views were spectacular.
Another beautiful waterfall.

At the top of another trail overlooking Mt. Wai'ale'ale, one of the rainiest spots on earth. They average 400-600 inches of rain each year.

The lighthouse at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. What an amazing site! Twelve years ago, when Shawn came to the islands for a field trip, his group slept in sleeping bags on the grass under the lighthouse for a night. I'm thinking that he may have to apply for a job here the next time it opens up. I'm sure we'd get lots of family and friends to visit us here.

We saw lots of whales spouting in the water from this point and even saw six whales breach (jump from the water) in one group.
Shawn loved looking at all the nesting red-footed boobies on the hillside.

The best snorkeling was at the Poipou beach and it was also the busiest beach. We saw tons of fish, eel, an octopus and a giant green sea turtle while we were snorkeling.

Shawn's list of must do things included a dinner boat cruise to see the Nepali Coast. When the guide said the trip was going to be extra exciting because of the weather we knew it was going to be a wild ride. We saw whales all over and one breached a few hundred yards from the boat. The Nepali Coast was some of the most beautiful scenery that God has ever created! Shawn enjoyed the dinner and I managed to eat the celery and one roll. The waves on our way back were higher that our boat and it was pretty rough going. Hopefully the next time we go it won't be quite so exciting.
Spouting Horn

The Nepali Coast from the boat. WOW!

I'm standing in the cave at Tunnels Beach.

It's hard to see, but behind the cars on the left side of the photo is the cave I was standing in, under a large amount of rock!

I tried hard to contain myself with the amount of pictures I posted, but it was really hard to choose because we saw so many beautiful things. I will probably do one more Hawaii post and then return back to more snowy, Minnesota pictures.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's Almost Easter

It's almost Easter and Nana Kristi is visiting with us this week, so all the girls have been busy crafting and cooking snacks.
 Karolyn cutting out fabric Easter eggs.
 Watching Nana Kristi sew the girls their new Easter shirts.

Each girl picked out their own shirt, fabric, the number and size of eggs and how they wanted their rickrack on their eggs. I think they all turned out pretty cute and I'm sure they'll be crafting all week while Shawn and I are in Hawaii. I'm so exited, especially since we still have 3 feet of snow on the ground and are supposed to get 6 more inches.