Day 5 - July 15
That morning we finally woke up at a decent time. The kids had finally adjusted to the time difference, so that was great! We took another small trip to Wal-Mart that morning (mostly to get some more Pocky - a Japanese snack that can't be found very often on the mainland) and then we headed to our first event of the morning - Foster Botanical Garden.
I was super excited about this. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Hawaii was because of their vegetation. Anyone who knows me knows that I love plants. So I think I enjoyed myself here probably more than any of the rest of my family did haha. As usual, I have tons of pictures from this, but I will spare you the endless scrolling and only post some of my favorites.
"Foster" written out in vegetation on this tree - so cool!
These orchids were everywhere and in every color all over Hawaii. I took lots of pictures of all the different colors I could find, but this one turned out the best.
This tree was so cool - its coconuts and flowers grew right from the trunk! Weird!
This tree is literally called "Giant Trunk Tree".... and for good reason.
Random totem pole! Pretty cool.
There was one other tree there that I didn't manage to take a picture of but I still wanted to mention because it was so crazy. It's called a Cannonball Tree, and it looks just like a coconut tree - but it's a trick! When the coconuts fall, they break open and release a blue, foul-smelling liquid that smells like skunks. It was crazy!
They also had a butterfly garden there, which was awesome. There were butterflies all over the place! But they were too fast, and I didn't manage to get any good pictures of that either. Darn! But I just thought I would mention it.
After the garden we headed to the Dole Plantation! It was a little bit of a drive, but so worth it! The first thing we did was eat lunch there, and it was soooo good! Let me tell you, the pineapples we have on the mainland are NOTHING like the pineapples they have in Hawaii. They are like a dark golden color on the inside and so full of flavor and juice that when you bite into it, it explodes in your mouth. Plus they aren't really prickly either. They are actually kinda smooth! Anyway, the first thing we did after lunch was look at another garden! Hooray!
Koi pond in the Dole gardens
Pretty waterfall in the Dole garden
This has to be my favorite plant that we came across in Hawaii. It's called Monstera - and those leaves are giant and actually GROW with all those little holes in it! So cool!
Walking around the Dole garden
Also while we were walking around the garden we saw the Pineapple Express train go by. It's a small train on the Dole Plantation that takes people out to pineapple fields and gives you a little audio tour full of information about the history of the pineapple and why pineapples grow so well in Hawaii. Also, it's the main reason that Vincent was most excited for the Dole Plantation out of everything else we did there. He wanted to ride the train SO badly! Finally we left the garden and got in the hour-long line so we could ride the train.
Sitting on the Pineapple Express!
A baby pineapple we saw on the train tour
We took tons of pictures of the tour - but like I said, I'm trying to just narrow it down to my favorites! And most of the pictures are of vegetation.... again. I think I've posted enough of those... Haha! So, moving on!
Also at the Dole Plantation is the 2008 Guinness World Record holder for the largest maze in the world. Apparently it's not the world's largest anymore, but it was in 2008! We definitely weren't going to try and navigate the whole thing with 2 small kids, plus we were already tired from walking around all day, but we did manage to find 2 out of 8 stencil stations. Go us!
The only picture I got of us in the maze.
After that we took the long drive back to Waikiki and decided to head to the beach one last time. We knew it was going to be the last time because we were only willing to deal with the sandy aftermath one last time haha! Eva did NOT like the showers she had to take afterwards, so we dealt with it as little as possible. This time I left the camera back at the hotel room so that I could actually enjoy myself at the beach, so I didn't get any more pictures. But I did snap this cute one of Vincent before we left:
That was all for this day. It was a fun day, and at this point in time as we were heading to bed we suddenly realized we only had one more full day left in Hawaii. Wow! The time was really flying by!
Day 6 - July 16
Since it was our last morning in Hawaii, we treated ourselves to the Denny's near our hotel. Mmm! Then we headed to our very LAST event of the trip - Sea Life Park.
Eva absolutely loved the shark tank. She kept pointing to them as they swam by and yelled "Fishy!"
Giant sting ray! This thing was cool. In this picture there are people down in the shark cage feeding the sting ray, which was really neat. Later on, though, this sting ray came right near us at the top of the water and splashed us over the lip of the tank! It was neat!
Sea Turtles! A lot of people were feeding these turtles as they swam around, and it was really cool to watch them eat.
Dolphins!! Probably the best part of the park. We went to a couple of dolphin shows to watch them do all kinds of awesome tricks, and even met the world's only known Whalfin - a cross between a bottle-nose dolphin and a false killer whale.
Sea lion lounging around. They were cute!
This was during the 2nd dolphin show. Vincent got to go down to the tank with a bunch of other kids and help the trainer get the dolphin to do tricks. He even got splashed a little as the dolphin did a flip! He was excited about that.
But the pictures just don't do it justice!! My camera wasn't fast enough to get any good action shots of the dolphins, so I finally gave in and took a video instead. Here it is!
So cool, right?? It was such a fun day!! A great way to end our vacation with a bang. That was really the only thing we did that day because after that we went back to the hotel and had to start packing up. After that we just spent some family time together which was really nice. That night we watched the sunset from our hotel balcony knowing that it would be the last Hawaiian sunset we would see possibly ever again.
Day 7 - July 17
Travel day again. We didn't have to wake up quite as early this time around, but still at about 5AM. We hopped on the long flight back to LA at about 7AM. And Hallelujah - Eva actually slept for about an hour when the plane took off and another hour when the plane was landing. This made for a very easy and uneventful flight. Hooray! Because of the time difference, we landed in LA at about 4PM. Of course, to us it felt like lunch time! So we ate a quick lunch at the airport, then waited for our next plane to Vegas. Then we waited some more..... and some more..... Yeah our plane ended up being delayed for almost an hour. The kids were totally fine, though. They just ran around in circles in the waiting area and didn't seem to mind at all. Then we finally boarded our last flight and finally got to Vegas at around 7PM where Sara came and picked us up (Thanks again, Sara!).
But it still didn't feel like our vacation was over! After we landed, Sara took us to BJ's for dinner in Vegas where we met up with Max's cousin Andy! We hadn't seen her since my bridal shower! It was so awesome FINALLY meeting her 3-year-old daughter Kaylee and her husband Manny. We laughed through the whole dinner, and Kaylee and Vincent REALLY hit it off! They were best friends by the time the meal was over. And I could totally kick myself for not thinking to snap any pictures of us all together!! I'm so sad about that! But oh well, it was a fun night. We finally headed home afterward, and got back to St. George at around 1AM. It felt so weird being back home. And that was the official end of our vacation. It was so amazing, I am still shocked that we were able to make it happen - it's an opportunity that we may never get again. We had such a great time, and I want to thank everyone who contributed in even a small way to helping us make it happen.
By the way, another big thank you to Brittney for house-sitting for us while we were away. That took a lot of worry off our minds, and when we came back our apartment was spotless!! Best house-sitter ever! And we also found out when we got back that Brittney had plans to move to St. George! (She does work here after all....) So the fun still isn't over - Brittney has been staying with us since we got back, and will be with us until the beginning of August when she will be moving into an apartment nearby! Hooray! It's going to be great to see so much more of her, and to just have some family living near us in general.
Besides that, we have a few more things coming up in our lives. Max starts up college again on August 19th, and in September we have plans to go see the Backstreet Boys concert in Vegas. Whoo! So stayed tuned for that stuff - in the meantime I will try to update the blog more often about other stuff that we do.
Thanks to anyone who actually got through all 3 parts of this travelogue! It took a lot of time and effort to put together (although I enjoyed every minute of it) and so I appreciate anyone who actually followed it. So, here we go for the very last time.... Mahalo and Aloha!!
The Smith Family