Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hawaii Eleven-O: Day 4

We started our first full day in Laie with some good old-fashioned laziness. Well, some of us did at least. :)  George and my dad took off fairly early to go scout out some snorkeling spots, eventually ending up at Kulima Cove, at the Turtle Bay Resort.  The rest of us spent the morning enjoying the view of the ocean and just generally relaxing.  I was able to finish up the book I'd been working on for a few weeks ("The Devil in the White City"), and start my next one ("The Book Thief").  And I hung out with Austin and Elise for a while, too.

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Looking back toward Hukilau Beach

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Austin spent a significant portion of the morning driving his favorite truck around the patio.

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Elise came out to eat her plum next to me

 Sharing a plum with "my buddy"
And then ended up sharing some of it with her buddy. (A lot of times she refers to Austin as "my buddy".)

Our big agenda item for the day was a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, just down the street in Laie, so after lunch we donned our official family vacation T-shirts (pretty much a first for us, unless you count the Wintch Family reunion shirt I got when I was about 4) and headed over to the PCC.  At the PCC they have different areas ("villages") where the different island nations of the Pacific are represented, and they put on shows throughout the day as well as having a variety of activities and educational things to do during non-show times.

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Guy climbing a coconut tree during the Samoan show

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Fijian Dancers during the double-hulled canoe pageant

Hawaiian hula dancer

The show for the Tongan village featured a drum show where they got volunteers from the audience to drum along with the "drum master".  At the end of each volunteer's turn, the drum master would try to get them to help him with a "Shave and  Haircut... Two Bits!" rhythm. The 3rd volunteer was Chinese and for whatever reason, just wanted to do exactly what the drum master had done, instead of the "Two Bits" part.  It was definitely high comedy as they tried over and over to get him to do it right. He clearly didn't speak much, if any English, but was always enthusiastic in his drumming. :)

China vs. Tonga

The grand finale

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Family portrait

At the end of a long afternoon of shows, we then went to a luau buffet where there was plenty of kahlua pork, rice, taro rolls, and other island treats.  Then George took the little kids home and the rest of us stayed for the night show ("Ha: The Breath of Life") that mainly featured the same types of dances we'd seen throughout the day in each village's show, but capped things off with some very impressive work by fire dancers.  Definitely the highlight of the day at the PCC, seeing people spin those flaming batons at blazing speed. Sometimes while sitting on the shoulders of someone else who was also spinning one. Very impressive.

More photos from Day 4

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hawaii Eleven-O: Day 3

After a day and a half of being in Hawaii without even getting my swim trunks on, Monday morning rolled around and we made the most of the day. :)

We started out with an early drive over to Hanauma Bay for some beginner snorkeling.  On my last trip to Hawaii, it was definitely my favorite place that I snorkeled and I still think it probably holds the title for now. For starters, the water is shallow (maybe a bit too shallow this time when the tide started rolling out), there's almost no wave action, which makes for easier swimming and less worry about getting scraped along the reef or rocks, and a plenitude of colorful fish and good chances of seeing turtles. At least I've seen them both times I've snorkeled there.  This time as I wasn't too worried about the snorkeling part, I remembered to bring my disposable underwater camera to Hanauma and was able to get quite a few pictures of turtles and some other good pictures of fish.  The shallow depths and lack of waves made taking pictures at Hanauma easier than some of the deeper, wavier spots we hit later in the week.  Maybe next time I can learn to actually dive down and take some closer pictures in the deep spots. For now I'm staying up at the surface. Oh, and insider tip for Hanauma: If you get there before 7, it's free to get in.  And since I'm usually waking up in Hawaii around 5:30 anyway, at least on my first few days there, it's not really that bad to get there by 7.

Ringtail Surgeonfish
Starting things off with a nice Ringtail Surgeonfish

Sea Turtle
First turtle of the morning

Pearl Wrasse
This Pearl Wrasse may have been the most colorful fish I saw there

The crazy thing about Hanauma is how there are really just fish everywhere in the reef. You put your face under the water and they're right there. And most good snorkeling places are like that. On the land and in the air, at least in the places I'm used to being, I'm just not used to seeing that much wildlife up close.

Ben and the Turtle
Ben meeting up with the 2nd turtle of the day. Not sure if this is the same turtle as before or a new one.

Sea Turtle
Nice profile shot of the 2nd turtle

Nice pair of Raccoon Butteflyfish
This pair of raccoon butterflyfish had great black & yellow coloring

Moray Eel
Wrapping things up with my first encounter with a moray eel. He's back there in the rocks just poking his nose and mouth out.

After snorkeling for 90 minutes or so at Hanauma, we packed up and headed back toward Kaneohe, meeting up with Kimi and the kids at a private beach at Bellows Air Force base for some playing on the beach time. The grandkids had a great time playing in the sand.  Among other things the grownups tried out was renting a sea kayak.  After spilling out a variety of times, we pretty much came to the conclusion that it took at least 3 people to get 2 people into it without spilling. I'm sure with more practice we probably could have figured it out.  Anyway, I think most of the fun of the sea kayak was in paddling it back into shore with the waves. Well, that and watching other people try to get in and tipping over.

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Natalie at Bellows

George and Ben boarding the sea kayak

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George & Kimi with the sea kayak. Yes, we got the pregnant lady in and out without spilling her once. :)

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Burying Ben in the sand

After a nice 2nd half of the morning at the beach, we stopped for late lunch at McDonalds, where the manager hooked up us with some free hot taro pies. Which were surprisingly good in my opinion. Why surprising? I guess because they were purple and taro is a starchy root, kind of like a potato.  Anyway, if you're in Hawaii, I recommend trying them out.

When we got back to George's, we cleaned up, and packed up all of our stuff to head out on our "vacation-in-a-vacation", driving up the coast to Laie to a "beach" house that my parents had rented for a few days. I say "beach" because really it was up on the cliffs above the bay and there was no sand in sight. Don't get me wrong, it was a great place to say and I think extra fun for the grandkids to actually feel like a vacation since they weren't staying at home any more. Later in the week, when told we were heading "home" after a day of activities, Elise asked whether we were going to their house or to "Uncle Jake's Beach House".  I don't know if that makes me the funnest uncle or not, but it seems like a good sign to me. :)

In any case, we got settled in, Grandpa Tom barbecued some steaks and chicken for dinner and we settled in for the night after a long day of Hawaii fun.

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Back patio of the beach house. One of the coolest parts was the huge sliding glass door that opened up all the way on to the patio and made the whole downstairs feel like it was overlooking the ocean.

More photos from Day 3.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hawaii Eleven-O: Day 2

Our 2nd Day in Hawaii was Sunday, and George's family doesn't have church until 1 pm (5 pm Utah time), so we had plenty of time to be lazy around the house, do some reading, and play with the kids until it was time for church.  Church was pretty much like church in Utah, except for everyone saying "Aloha" and the congregation saying it back.  Oh, and the part where the Sunday School teacher asked what a "parable" is and someone said "sounds that make up a word".  :)

After church, we headed back to George's for more playing and for dinner.  George and Kimi were in charge of dinner that night and they put together a quesadilla bar, complete with Napoleon Dynamite sign ("Why don't you just make yourself a dang quesa-dilla?")

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Lucy and Elise jumping back and forth between the love seat and the ottoman

"X" is for "X-Ray"!
Can't believe I missed this photo from Day 2! Austin had lots of fun telling me what letter stands for what. Like "E for Elise!" and "L for Lucy!" He's so smart and so enthusiastic.I've got a video to share from later in the week with him telling me (and quizzing me) about numbers.

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Quesadilla time

So, I guess there really wasn't too much photoworthy the first 2 days of our trip, but definitely my favorite part of this trip was just having everyone together and being able to hang out and play and chat. And yes, it was nice to be in Hawaii for that, but I would have enjoyed it just as much pretty much anywhere in the world.  Anyway, the rest of the trip was much more Hawaii-centric.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hawaii Eleven-O: Day 1

Day 1 of our Tripp Family Hawaiian vacation (dubbed Hawaii Eleven-0 by my mother given that its 2011, and if you count grandchild #4 that's one the way, there were 11 of us there) started at the Salt Lake International Airport, where the security line was a little long but moved quickly and before we knew it we were on our way to the islands! And because our direct flight from Salt Lake to Honolulu was part of an international flight, in-flight movies were free! I watched "Red", which I found to be surprisingly entertaining, if a little silly at times, and then watched "Inception" for the first time since I saw it in the theater. And of course I still loved it, and was left with some questions still. Anyway, definitely a fantastic movie. Free movies made the flight go by pretty quickly, and soon we were touching down in Honolulu.

George, Kimi, and the fam surprised us by coming to the airport to meet us at baggage claim and they'd brought leis for all of us. It was great to see them and the kids after some time away (9 months for Ben and Natalie).

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"Ben and Austin are the best!"

We got our bags, our rental car, and headed over to a park in the shadow of Diamondhead for a picnic, some kite-flying, and just some hanging out and playing time.

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Diamondhead looking nice and green in the early spring.

Then we took the scenic way around the island to George's home in Kaneohe, where they'd also gotten us each a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts with a tag that said "Welcome to the Tripp Ohana (Hawaiian for "family") Hotel". We played for a bit and then settled in for the night (Hawaii is 4 hours behind Utah, so 8:00 pm in Hawaii was like midnight Salt Lake time).

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A little something to tide you over

Got a busy Saturday ahead of me, catching up on stuff that needs doing upon arriving home from vacation (laundry, sleep, etc), so it might be a few days before I get around to full-blown blog coverage of the trip. In the meantime, here's one of my favorite shots from the trip:

Electric Beach

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2 more days!

Looking forward to this:
Looking down at Waikiki

and this:
Hawaii October 2010 (13)

But possibly even more to stuff like this:
Kailua Beach

and this:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Coming soon!

Only 5 more days til I'll be back here again.

Pali Lookout

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The weirdest part of moving rooms

Well there are actually a few weird things about having moved to a different room in the same house.

1) Its going to take a while before I don't instinctively head toward the upstairs when I get home.

2) I feel like I totally live somewhere else. Except I don't. Everything looks exactly the same. And yet, it's like I've never been there before.

3) Because the furniture in my new room is configured somewhat the same as it was in my old room, when I want to leave the room, my instinct is to head toward the closet door which is now in the same relative location that the bedroom door was in my old room. And in another apartment I lived in, with a similar layout, I had a bathroom door over there. But now it's the closet. Not the hallway. Not a bathroom. No matter how many times I start walking over there. But it still feels like there should be something over there besides a closet.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Moving on down...

I spent a significant portion of this past weekend moving. Not houses, just rooms. One of our roommates got married Saturday and I had decided a couple months ago that when he moved out that I'd move downstairs to his room. I'd had the option of moving down to the basement just over a year ago when my roommate who also happens to own the house decided he wanted to rent that room out. It's a little bit bigger than the room I've been in, and I'd have my own bathroom, and in the summertime I could be nice and cool instead of having to run my fan all night to avoid waking up feeling like I'd run a marathon during the night. At the time, though, I didn't really want to go through the hassle of moving everything owned from the upstairs to the downstairs. Because really it's nearly as much work as actually moving, just without the driving part in the middle.

Apparently something changed in the last year to make me feel like going through the hassle. Probably it was the promise of cooler temperatures in the summer. And I guess, in the end, I really only moved the stuff in my room and bathroom. The stuff I have in storage stayed put, as did my non-bedroom furniture (couch, entertainment center, coffee table). Anyway, pretty much all my stuff is moved now and I only have a few piles of things that I still need to decide what to do with. Hopefully I'll deal with them sooner rather than later and they won't just become permanent fixtures in my room. At least one of the piles was already a pile in my room for the last year. I think maybe I need to get another bookshelf.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Biannual Health Update

So two times a year, I come to work a couple minutes early, go up to the lab, and get my blood drawn to run some tests to check out how I'm doing with my diabetes and other things that are important to keep an eye for diabetes-related reasons (like my cholesterol and something called ALT). I can get my results through the Intermountain MyHealth patient portal as soon as they are available, which is cool. The results for the first 3 lab tests (ALT, Lipids (cholesterol), and a basic metabolic panel) come back pretty quickly, like in an hour or less. Unfortunately, the more important result, my hemoglobin A1c, which is a sort of cumulative measure for my blood sugar levels over the last few months, I don't usually find out until sometime in the afternoon. I always start to get nervous as I wait and wonder about how it's going to look. I can think back and say that my sugar levels have been pretty good in the last few months, though not quite as fantastic the last week or so, but I still fret until I find out what it's going to be.

I guess my biggest fear is of my doctor saying that I'm not doing a good enough job and suggesting that I start taking something for my diabetes. Right now I'm doing pretty good with just watching my diet and exercising. The next step would probably be some pills and then at some point if that wasn't working I'd probably be on insulin, which would mean giving myself shots which I don't really look forward. They say that it's part of the normal progression of diabetes and not to feel like you've failed when you reach those moments, but right now I'm pretty happy with the whole not-having-to-worry-about-my-glucose-being-too-low-and-passing-out-and-dying thing.

Anyway, my first test came back pretty good this morning, still waiting on my A1c. While I do, I just want to say that I feel really blessed in that so far my diabetes has meant only good things for me. It helped me have the motivation to take control of my diet and to exercise much more regularly and I feel so much better as a result. And because I found out in such a random way, I never had to experience something horrible to let me know that I was diabetic. So that was nice.

Ok, the final result is in and....holy cow! 5.1! So yeah, that's great news. Dr. Lee is going to be happy, I think. Just some background for you non-diabetics out there, when I was first diagnosed, my A1c was 7.5. Typically it is recommended that diabetics try to keep their A1c under 7.0. A normal person's A1c is typically under 6.0, and I've always been under 6.0 since 3 months after I was first diagnosed (5.8, 5.8, 5.9, 5.7), which is great, but Even I am impressed. :) Good times, people. :)