Friday, June 16, 2023
It does not take us long to settle into a routine. Just as with the previous day, my alarm started waking us up at 7:00 AM, and then after showering and such, we ate breakfast on the Riedels’ balcony. Especially with a view like that for breakfast, I could definitely get used to that routine.
Breakfast on the balcony in the sun
And how about that view from the balcony?
However, this day was a little different than the previous day, because we had a specific plan. But not too specific. We had decided to leave Aulani and drive west, along the leeward side of Oʻahu. Our main goal was to see some of the beaches in that area. So we got in the car and headed out.
As we drove along, we realized that we were not quite expecting what we saw. At several of the beach areas, there were lots of tents set up, and not just for overnight camping. It quickly became obvious that those tents were where people lived. Although we have often heard about how expensive it is to live in Hawaiʻi, seeing all those tents along the way was a bit eye-opening. It definitely made us even more thankful for what we have.
Somewhere along the way in our drive, as we were going through a lot of traffic, I made room for someone to merge in front of us. After he merged, the driver rolled down the window and threw us a shaka. At that point, I was sure we were in Hawaiʻi. Back home, if you get any kind of hand gesture at all, it is not the friendly kind.
Laura had located a cave that we might want to explore, so we had that as our “unofficial” destination as we drove. We went through a couple of smaller towns, noting that the gas price was $4.44 per gallon, or about $1.40 higher than what we had paid back home. I know that is one of the difficulties of living on an island.
Apple Maps told us that we had reached the cave destination, so we pulled off into a parking area. And the first thing that we noticed from there was the magnificent view! We had been seeing amazing mountains all along our drive, which I later found out were the Waiʻanae mountains, the same name as the Waiʻanae Tower of Aulani where we were staying. (Side note: the other tower is named the ʻEwa Tower, and is in the direction of the ʻEwa plains. Cool naming ideas!)
We all took lots of photos of the views from there, because they were much different than what we could see back home. Yes, I say that often, but it is true. When we eventually realized where the cave was, across the road from where we had parked, we saw a rather questionable character coming out of it and decided that it was not necessarily for us. No big deal, because we were not that set on going in anyway. Instead, we got back in the car and kept on driving along the coast.
Laura and Karen with a great background
Different people, same background. Brant and Karen this time.
Group photo with our matching shirts. More about those a little later.
As we were driving, the road narrowed, and we had entered the Kaʻena Point State Park. To our left was the beach, as had been true for most of our drive. And to our right was a parking lot, which looked like a perfect place to park the car and check out the beach. We also noticed several “No Overnight Camping” signs, which we took as aimed at those we had seen camping on beaches earlier in our drive. There were not many cars in the parking lot, and there were not many people at the beach, either.
The beach, if you are wondering, was named Keawaʻula Beach. Other signs as we had driven in mentioned something about satellite tracking, and that was because the Kaʻena Point Space Force Satellite Tracking Station was on the hill up above us. I thought that was really cool, since I like all things space-related anyway.
We made it to the beach!
Can you find Laura in this photo?
The beach, as you might expect in Hawaiʻi, was perfect. We were surrounded by mountains on three sides, although the mountains were not right up next to us. The waves were crashing in onto the shore. And there were a few clouds overhead. Those clouds did not seem like much, but they dropped some sprinkles of rain on us from time to time. Nothing too serious to chase us back to the car, however. We walked down to put our feet in the water, but we did not venture past that. That was partly due to the fact that we had all worn shorts instead of swimsuits. But that was also partly due to a sign that read, “Warning: Dangerous Shore Break. If In Doubt, Don’t Go Out”. But we were not in doubt, and that is why we did not go out.
Laura at the beach
Brant and Karen at the beach. Karen was on the phone with Katie back at home.
Off in the distance, there was one man who was not in doubt, because he did go out. He was trying to catch some waves with varying success. But he knew what he was doing, and so I figured he was safe. I watched him a bit every now and then, but mostly I just watched the waves roll in. And I took lots of photos, as I typically do.
If in doubt, don’t go out
But then, something curious happened, and really do not know what it was. At intervals, a couple of ambulances, a couple of fire trucks, and some other law enforcement vehicles went past us on the road between the beach and the parking lot. They each had to slow down near the parking lot because of a big dip in the road, but then they would pick up speed again, going farther up the road. A helicopter then flew along the shore past us, going on to where all the emergency vehicles were headed.
We walked on down the beach a bit, passing a lifeguard station and a few people here and there enjoying the beach. The emergency vehicles had gathered at a spot a little farther on down the road, but they were still far enough away that we could not see what was going on. Our guess was that someone who should not have gone out did go out. They did all eventually leave, one by one again. We did not know whether that was a good thing or not.
Laura and Steve at the beach
Group photo at the beach
I had wondered about driving farther on down the road into the park, perhaps to get all the way to the western tip of Oʻahu. But we decided that we really would not see anything different than what we had already seen. And although I could have stayed at the beach a lot longer (which is true of any beach trip), we were all starting to get hungry for lunch. So we walked up to the restroom building next to the parking lot to rinse the sand off of our feet. Not all of the faucets worked, and the guy who we had seen out earlier catching waves helped us get the right one. I was relieved that he was there and was not the cause of the emergency vehicles. And then we got back in the Pathfinder to find the path back to Aulani.
Because the previous day’s lunch was good, we decided to follow the same plan. Once we were back at Aulani, we walked across the street to the Island Market ABC Store to get some sandwiches for lunch.
As we were walking across the street to the Market, another couple was walking in the same direction as us. The man said, “Hey, you are all wearing matching shirts!” Which was true. Laura had made us matching shirts for the trip. He was the first one that day to say anything about them. Karen said, “Yes, this trip is for our 30th anniversaries,” which explained the 30th anniversary logo on our shirts. The man said, “Wow, none of you look old enough to have been married that long!” I don’t think he was selling anything, but that would have been a good lead-in if he were.
We then went back to our now-standard eating place of the Riedels’ balcony and enjoyed our sandwiches, chips, drinks, and snacks. Who says you have to eat out someplace fancy on every meal for vacation? Plus, by lunchtime, their balcony was completely shaded, so it was a pleasant place to sit for a while.
A balcony view
Another balcony view
Our after-lunch activity also looked the same as the day before, as we headed back out to the Waikolohe Valley to get our wristbands and towels. This time we went to the main Kāwele Korner tent because we knew where to go. And the cast members asked us if we wanted to go ahead and get tomorrow’s wristband, too (the color changes every day, by the way). We knew that we were planning to come back the next day, so why not get our wristbands? We had laughed the day before about people wearing multiple wristbands, with some wearing four or five, but now here we were wearing two. We still did not think we would keep them on past their date, though. I was not sure if those wearing so many were using them as a status symbol or something. To each his own.
Once again, we could only find chairs at the beach, but that had worked fine for us the previous day, so we were good with it for this day, too. We then followed the same routine as before, alternating between the Waikolohe Stream lazy river, the tube slide, the hot tub, and the beach, although only the Burnses got in the water at the beach.
At one point after one tube slide trip, the girls decided that they wanted to try the body slide, while the guys decided to skip it. Because of Laura’s and my experience the day before seeing the lifeguard test, I knew where the slide came out. So Brant and I headed over there to watch for the girls to come down. The only downside was that we did not quite know how long it would take. But we were on vacation and not in a hurry for anything, so it really did not matter. We just had to watch everyone who came down. But then I heard Laura, and I knew she was coming. Sure enough, it was her, splashing into the water. And of course, Karen was right behind her. They said that the slide was enclosed and dark all the way down, which Brant and I had been wondering. But they said that it was fun! Not enough to convince Brant and me to give it a try, though. And the rest of the afternoon was spent with all of the previous activities.
As always, time went by very quickly, and it was soon time for us to head up to our rooms to get ready for our next event. Somewhere along the way, Karen had suggested that it would be good to have a “nice” meal for our anniversary dinner. So we looked at options, and Misty at Storybook Destinations got us a reservation for Makahiki, one of the fine dining restaurants at Aulani.
Laura on the balcony
Our reservation was for 6:30 PM, so we had a little time after we got ready to take some photos on the back patio of the Makaʻala (the main lobby area) overlooking the Waikolohe Valley (the pool area). Makahiki was actually two floors down on the ground level, right underneath where we were standing.
Photos before dinner, First, Laura and Karen.
Then, Laura and Steve.
Next, Brant and Karen.
And finally, a group photo.
Just before 6:30 PM, we went downstairs to get checked in. The reservation was in my name, so I went to the desk while everyone else went to sit down. The check-in lady asked if we were celebrating anything special, and I said that both couples were celebrating our 30th anniversaries. She reached behind the counter and got four anniversary celebration buttons for us, which I took to the others. Cool!
We could hear singing, and it did not take long to realize that there was live music that night, from a gentleman who was singing and playing guitar. That was cool, too!
Before long, we were shown to our table. Everything was open to the outside, but we were seated at an inside table. We could hear the singing guy, although we could not see him. The room was lit with color-changing lights, and the food smells mingled with the outside smells for an interesting atmosphere.
Our waiter brought us our menus and then brought us some soft drinks and water. Makahiki was a set-price restaurant, so it really did not matter what we ordered, the price would be the same. If I were a good record keeper, I would tell you what everyone had, but I am not. I can tell you that I got a Caesar salad, the catch of the day (which was Ahi), and pineapple cobbler for dessert. It was all delicious, but the pineapple cobbler was especially good. I like cobbler, and I like pineapple, so mixing them together was a great idea!
We enjoyed our meal, and as usual, we enjoyed sitting and talking, too. As a bonus, our waiter brought us two special anniversary desserts, which was a great touch. It might have been a little much after our regular desserts, but we still ate them anyway. How could you pass up such a nice gesture?
Our special anniversary dessert.
After dinner, we went out for what had become our customary walk along the lagoons. But because it was already dark, and because we were full, this one was a little more of a stroll than a walk. But that was fine. It gave us a chance to work off some of the calories we consumed. And the evening breeze was nice and cool, too.
We went back to our rooms to get ready for bed. But first, I decided to go out on the balcony with my camera and tripod to take some long-exposure photos of the part of Aulani we could see and of the surrounding area (see this photo, for an example). Even with that extra activity, we were still in bed by 10:00 PM. No late nights for us, it seemed, but that was just fine. We could use the rest from the fun day and to rest up for the day ahead, too.