Pearl Harbor and the trek home

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Friday morning,  Clarissa and I headed to Pearl Harbor.  Parking was free but packed, so we ended up parking at the marina instead.  I read that strollers weren’t allowed in most areas,  so Clarissa had to walk I carried Clarissa most of the day.  Halfway through the parking lots there was a sign that said no bags or purses so we had to bring our diaper bag back to the car.

I saw plenty of strollers in the parts we visited (the free parts) so I could have brought the stroller. Oh well. Clarissa likes to cuddle anyway. I thought the memorials, models, and exhibits were interesting. Clarissa especially enjoyed the torpedoes, big guns, submarine, and the models of boats and planes in the museum.

Next, we headed to Ford Island to check out the Pacific Aviation Museum. You need a military ID to enter the museum because Ford Island is an active Navy base. You can take a guided tour of the museum but it’s cheaper to just walk through yourself. Clarissa and I both enjoyed walking through two different hangars and observing all of the different kinds of planes. She seemed especially interested in the model of the Battle of Midway. I thought it was interesting to see the differences in the planes over time as well as from different countries.

Clarissa was disappointed that she was not allowed to climb into the cockpit of each plane. There was also a flight simulator, but she was too young for that. I learned that George H W Bush was the youngest naval pilot during World War 2.

We had another play date with our friends before heading back to the hotel. Once Tim finished work we headed back to the mall for Teppanyaki. The food was good but very expensive. The service wasn’t great. We opted to skip the fireworks at the hotel and instead visit Best Buy and Whole Foods on our last night in Hawaii.

I think that if we were living the United States right now, the trip would have looked a little different because we wouldn’t have spent as much time shopping. Two years in Korea leaves us with a list of things we miss being able to buy. This trip was also different than we expected because of the hours Tim had to work. Usually, he has more free time to explore. If we had known his work schedule ahead of time, we probably would have added a day or two to the trip. I am also really pleased with our decision to get a rental car this trip instead of relying on public transportation like we usually do. Clarissa and I would have had a completely different experience if we had to rely on the bus system. Though we would have only put my name on the rental car. Tim didn’t drive much and we paid a lot more for the second person.

Saturday was another long travel day. We lost a day because of the International Date Line and came home late Sunday night. Also, for some reason the flight from Honolulu to  Japan was three hours longer (planned) on the way back. It was a much bumpier ride so it must have something to do with the wind currents.

Honolulu Airport had a really friendly staff. The prices at the airport were more expensive than anywhere else I have seen. We played at a new play area at Narita Airport in Japan. Clarissa really enjoys the play areas at that airport.

We decided that we would leave our heavy winter coats in the car and just bring sweatshirts on the journey because we didn’t want to have to carry them to Hawaii. We were hot most of the way to Hawaii so we left our sweatshirts in our checked bags for the flights home. We landed in Daegu at about 9pm and it was about 27 degrees outside. They parked the plane far away and we had to wait outside for a bus to take us to the terminal. Thankfully, we gate checked the stroller this round so Clarissa could sleep in the stroller instead of having to carry her through immigration and customs. We ran to the car since we were so cold. Parking was ridiculously expensive. We had to park in the International Lot instead of long term parking, so it might be cheaper that way. Next time, I think we will have a friend bring us to the bus station. That way we can pay $10 per person for the bus instead of the 115,000 won ($97) we paid for airport parking.

A Terrific Thursday in Waikiki 

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For the first time ever,  Clarissa wanted to wear panties to leave the house.  That made me a little nervous since she has definitely been in a diaper the whole week. 

We met up with a friend that I used to dance with at church.  We are both moms now and were excited to meet each other’s daughters. 

As we were driving to meet them,  Clarissa said,  “We are going to z-zero-zero. That spells zoo.”  We spent the rest of the drive discussing the difference between the letter o and the number zero. 

We went to the Honolulu Zoo.  There are kiosks to pre – pay for parking.  It only costs $1 per hour,  but it is best to overpay.  They will ticket you for being late. Admission to the zoo is reasonable as well. Military adults pay $4,  children are $4.

It is a decent size zoo. Clarissa didn’t want me to bring the stroller.  I was thankful when I saw that my friend brought her wagon for the girls. 

There was a neat display with two volunteers who were explaining about different animal skulls.  Apparently an elephant gets a new set of teeth four times in his life.  The last set has teeth the size and weight of a brick!  The giraffe mouth was interesting too because they have a front set of teeth and a back set.  

There were several different sections of the zoo.  One section had African animals.  There was a bird sanctuary.  The playground was really nice.  There was also a small petting zoo.  

 We had fun swinging on the banyan trees before we left.  We hung out at the car a bit too so that we could keep playing but not get a ticket for being over our time. It was so hard to say goodbye. While we were waiting,  Clarissa decided that she needed to drive the car and climbed over the back seat and front seat to buckle herself in! 

After we got back to the hotel,  Clarissa and I headed to the beach.  Along the way,  Clarissa started picking up leaves.  She did not want anyone to step on them. 

She picked up a few shells in the sand.  Then I explained the rules for swimming at the beach.  She started walking to the water and freaked out when the tide came in so we went to the pool instead. 

Tim got off on time today so that we could go to the Hale Koa Luau. It was such a cool experience.  There was like a happy hour first where they also had some experiences.  There was a guy talking about climbing coconut trees,  someone giving ukulele lessons,  and you could make a flower bracelet as well. 

Then,  we were ushered to our seats for dinner.  It was delicious.  I tried the traditional poi.  It tasted kind of sour.  

The entertainment portion was excellent.  The cast did dances from several islands including Hawaii,  Tahiti,  Samoa,  and New Zealand.  There was also a fire dancer. 

I appreciated that they took the time at the end to honor veterans in the audience for each war and also each branch of service.  The finale was special as the host asked anyone who had lost a friend in battle to stand and hold a candle as he sang “I am proud to be an American.” I highly recommend the luau. 

Pineapple and the beach 

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Today was the earliest Clarissa woke up on her own,  at 10:30. We headed to the Dole Plantation.  It was about a 45 minute drive and I can only listen to “Elsa music”  for so long.  But I had some great realizations during my drive. 

 I was thankful that we listened to advice from several friends and rented a car.  It made my life so much easier to just put Clarissa in her carseat and let waze direct us than to wait for a bus and try to navigate an island that I know very little about.  Also,  I think that by the end of the week,  I will have driven more in Hawaii than in the last two years in Korea.  I also think it’s special that we are staying in Waikiki.  My grandparents met in Hawaii and actually honeymooned in Waikiki so this place is part of my history.  Though I know it looked radically different in the 1940s! 

Then drive was pretty.  I didn’t take pictures obviously since I was the one driving.  We passed several military bases.  I didn’t realize that there were so many here.  At one point the sky was so dark,  I thought for sure it would storm but it didn’t. 

The parking lot was only half full. There is a massive gift shop the size of a department store.  There are ladies that tell you to choose a piece of paper to see if you win a pearl and give you a coupon.  Clarissa enjoyed picking the papers but I didn’t buy any jewelry. 

The Dole Plantation has three paid attractions.  The pineapple express is a 22 minute narrated train ride around the plantation.  You get to see where they harvest all of their crops and listen to some Hawaiian music along the way.  

Each pineapple plant is used to harvest three different pineapples over about 45 months.  

I did not realize that Dole had such a variety of foods.  They grow pineapple,  bananas,  cacoa,  coffee,  sugar cane, coconut,  and macadamia nuts on this plantation. 

After our train ride we walked down a path to get to the Botanical Garden there.  Along the way we paid for bird seed and fed the birds.  Clarissa was also very excited about a rooster and his “girlfriend.” I was interested in how far we were from other places.  It was almost the same distance to Seoul as it was to New York City.  We really are about halfway home this week. 

The Botanical Garden was beautiful.  It was paved so it was stroller friendly.  It wasn’t huge but Clarissa and I enjoyed it.  There is a mound on one side where you can see some harvesting machines and a mountain in the distance.  Clarissa had fun exploring.  It was hard to convince her to leave. 

They also claim to have the world’s largest Maze.  Clarissa wasn’t interested so we skipped it.  You can pay for each attraction individually or pay for a combination of the things you want to do.  You can do all three for less than $20.

We headed to the gift shop to try the pineapple whip. There was some sticker shock at first because the smallest one was $5.50 plus tax.  But it was a very large serving and we both enjoyed it.  They sold more substantial food as well. 

We walked through the gift shop for about 20 minutes because there was so much to see.  We ended up with two more souvenir pennies.  There was a kiosk where a man would tell you how to say your name in Hawaiian and what it meant.  He also sold leather bracelets that could be engraved with your name.  Clarissa got her English name in pink and I got mine in green. 

We had planned a palace and a museum as well this afternoon but traffic was bad and Clarissa was tired so we just came back to the hotel.  

The original plan was to have dinner with Tim’s work friends and it was already 4:00 so my goal was to avoid the pool.  We did some reading and coloring so it worked for about an hour.  Then I convinced her that the playground was an acceptable substitute. 

But then the sun started setting over the beach and it was beautiful so I needed to get closer to take pictures… Clarissa had a great time playing in the sand and the water.  She was so much messier than if I had just taken her to the pool.  

Some teenage girls walked by and they thought that Clarissa was adorable and offered to take our picture.  Then I had to convince Clarissa that it was time to go.  We did shower off on the way so it didn’t take as long to clean her up as I thought. I think she will request the beach over the pool tomorrow. 

Dinner with friends was rescheduled for Friday and we decided to eat at one of the hotel restaurants.  We ended up at Bibas for some Italian food.  I had my first adult beverage in a restaurant since Clarissa was born.  It was called a rainbow.  It was pretty and actually tasted good too. 

Fun day with friends 

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Two of my church friends from Virginia Beach currently live in Hawaii. We got to have a play date with one of them this morning at the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center

There are several awesome exhibits on two floors.  The first floor has real life things for kids to play with.  You can dress up on stage,  run the spotlight for the stage,  be a news person,  or a camera person.  There is also a restaurant to make food,  a bank,  fire station,  recycling center,  a construction area, and auto shop.  One room is even set up with body parts.  For example you can go inside a giant mouth and brush teeth or walk through a stomach. 

The second floor has rooms for several different countries.  You can play dress up and see what kind of food they eat or what the houses look like.  They have India,  Portugal,  Philippines,  China,  Japan,  and Korea,  as well as Hawaii.  There are books in each room so Clarissa wanted to read.  The cool thing was that the book in Hawaii was about a monk seal and we watched a training session with a monk seal yesterday at the aquarium. 

I definitely recommend the museum.  With my military discount it was $10 each (normally 12). The kids played well together.  Clarissa tried to get in their van when it was time to leave.  It was so good for my heart to see someone from home and just catch up. 

On the way home Clarissa and I went to the US Army History Museum Hawaii.  Any history buff will love it.  There was a section about how Hawaiians helped in each of the wars in the 20th century.  There were rooms about weapons and people.  One room was about World War 1, another about World War 2,  the Korean War, and  Vietnam.  I don’t remember if they talked about the Gulf Wars. 

There is a wonderful gift shop.  I was able to find some neat things for the veterans in my life.  

After the museum,  we made some more friends at the pool.  When Tim got back,  we headed to the mall for dinner.  We ate at Islands Fine Burgers and Fries.  The food was great.  I was so hungry that I forgot to take pictures… 

Change of plans 

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Tim had to leave for work at 630 this morning.  Meanwhile,  at 11 I tried to wake Clarissa up.  I said,  “Don’t you want to ride the pineapple train today?”  She said,  “Yes but I want to sleep a little bit longer,” rolled over,  and went back to sleep.  Jetlag always hits her the hardest.  Going to bed at midnight didn’t help,  I am sure.  

The Dole Pineapple Plantation is the farthest thing I am planning to do without Tim,  so we need to leave earlier in the day.  I decided to catch up on some reading and let Clarissa sleep so we can have a fun time with friends tomorrow. 

She did finally wake up about noon.  We spent some time playing with her new Hawaii Legos and then she said she had to bring her Gigi books to read to the fish at the aquarium. 

We drove to the Waikiki Aquarium and found a space in the very small lot.  The aquarium was small but fun.  With my military ID admission was only $8 (normally 12)  and Clarissa was free.  There were several small tanks and one large one.  

Yesterday’s submarine ride saw several of the same fish,  but due to the water depth,  we didn’t see the colors.  It was nice to see the colorful fish and coral today.  I also really liked that each tank had a small platform for kids to stand on to see better. 

Outside was a volunteer with sea urchins and hermit crabs you could learn about and touch.  Also,  there was a sea lion. Clarissa was very excited to make a souvioneer coin.  For 51 cents you could squish a penny.  There were 7 designs to choose from. One side had an animal and the other side said Waikiki Aquarium.  Clarissa chose a shark,  a clown fish,  and a sea lion. 
As we were finishing our coins there was an announcement that there was a training session for the sea lion.  We decided to check it out.  Clarissa really enjoyed it.  We ended up standing next to a family from Korea.  They definitely looked at us strangely when we greeted them in Hangeul.  Clarissa was very excited,  “Mommy they speak Korean!” 

After the aquarium,  we decided to check out the Army History Museum.  I forgot that they are closed on Monday.  But we had a picnic lunch on a bench and enjoyed looking at the war machines outside. 

We decided to go back to the hotel and head to the pool until Tim got back home from work.  Clarissa made a friend and we got to watch the sunset from the pool.  It was beautiful.  The pictures on my phone do not do the colors justice. 

We headed back to the mall for dinner.  They have a large food court so we were each able to get what we wanted. Clarissa had her French fries,  Tim had Chinese,  and I had Mexican (the closest I’ve had to my favorite in almost two years). 

Let the Hawaii adventures begin! 

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Jetlag is interesting.  Yesterday,  my goal was to make it to 7pm. We were in bed by 6.  Clarissa was awake and starving by 11 so we all snacked and read until about 1.  I woke up about 745 and decided that I should actually get up for the day  to have some quiet time before Tim and Clarissa woke up…I had to wake them up at 11 so we had time to eat for our scheduled submarine adventure. 

The pier for Atlantis Submarines is attached to our hotel’s beach.  I didn’t plan it that way,  but it definitely made life easier.  

We checked in for our tour and they took our family picture.  The pictures ended up being good so we paid the expensive fee for them. 

First,  we boarded a boat. We had to watch the coast guard safety video before the boat could launch.  Then we were allowed on the top deck to see the awesome scenery on the way to our submarine. 

It was pretty cool to watch the submarine come up.  Clarissa did climb the ladder by herself to the submarine.  The windows were very large and the views were clear.  Apparently the deeper underwater you go,  the less the colors show.  Red looks brown.  Yellow was vibrant.  But most things looked blue,  black,  and gray.  Apparently when National Geographic comes to take pictures,  they have to use huge lights so that you can actually see the colors of the fish. 

Waikiki is a man made beach so 30 years ago there weren’t many fish.  Atlantis built a few different structures to attract fish and populate this area. They also have a sunken ship and two planes down there. 

The submarine ride was about an hour and had a live English narration.  They also had headsets so that you could hear the tour in Japanese,  Chinese,  or Spanish. It was interesting and informative.  We were able to see many fish but also a shark,  two turtles,  and sting rays.  We went down to 113 feet,  which is apparently rare for most people to do in their lifetime. We all really enjoyed it. 

Tim had a meeting after our tour so Clarissa and I headed to the pool for about an hour.  We then headed to the mall to see the rest of the stores and have dinner. 

We ended up at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It is based on the movie Forest Gump. The service was great. They have two license plates on your table.  The red one lets the servers know that you need something. 

The food was delicious.  There were many things to choose from.  We may eat there again later in the week.  Tim chose a lemonade in a suvioneer cup that had color changing lights on the bottom. 

Clarissa fell asleep on the drive to Target.  I was very excited to be able to visit Target. Though I must admit that this one had several empty shelves which surprised me.  Island life probably means less frequent deliveries. 

Also at checkout my cashier asked me if I needed to purchase a reusable bag.  I have not been to Target in two years so I don’t know if that is a normal Target thing or just a Hawaiian thing.  I have not seen a single plastic bag on the island. 

Ask and you shall receive 

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About Thanksgiving,  I shifted my prayer focus. I was really convicted that I pray a lot,  but don’t focus enough on prayers for my own family. I also felt like God specifically told me to ask Tim what he wanted me to pray about.  

The first thing he asked me to pray for was a job that he loves in a location that we will all enjoy.  About a week later,  he found out that they were planning to send him TDY to Hawaii for a week.  Though we did not originally plan to visit Hawaii on our tour in Korea,  we decided that Clarissa and I should join him for his trip. 

We usually take a taxi to the bus station and then take the airport limousine bus to the Gimhae Airport in Busan.  But it can be very frustrating because the taxis can usually only fit one suitcase in the trunk so we end up with the stroller in the front seat and a suitcase squished in the back seat with the three of us in the back.  We thought we would try driving this time and just leave the car at the airport. 

Saturday morning at breakfast,  I specifically prayed that we would have a good travel day and make our flights.  We left a little later than we wanted to,  but weren’t worried.  We would arrive to the airport about 12:30 which would still give us time to check in to our flight, grab lunch,  and go through security. 

When we arrived at the long term parking lot,  the attendant wouldn’t let us in.  The lot was full.  So we drove past the domestic parking lot which had a long line.  We then found the international parking lot and waited in line for 45 minutes before we could get in to the parking lot.  

We then had to drag 3 suitcases,  a stroller, car seat,  and Clarissa through the parking lot and airport to check in.  When we got to the check in counters, there was not a sign for our airline.  I looked at the board and saw that Korean Air had a flight to Tokyo the same time as ours so we decided to go there.  

The attendant said that we were in the wrong place,  told us where to go,  and sent someone from Japan Airlines to help us.  Two very frazzled ladies came to check us in at 135 for our 205 flight.  They were very nice and said that if we ran,  we could make it.  Thankfully,  there was not a line at security or immigration and we made it to the gate as they were finishing the boarding process. 

As we were boarding the plane,  I remembered that I had specifically prayed that we would make our flight.  We don’t usually miss our flights so that was an interesting thing for me to ask for.  But God totally delivered.  There was definitely an hour where we were frustrated and stressed.  And we thought we would never drive to the airport again.  But the customer service was great and we made it.  We may drive again,  we just need to leave earlier. 

On the breezeway,  Clarissa started crying and said that she was afraid to fly and didn’t want to get on the plane.  We thought that was strange since she usually loves vacation.  But once we got her settled in to her seat and started a movie,  she was happy.  They even brought her a present.  She picked out a letter A with a propeller.  

As usual,  Japan Airlines food did not disappoint.  They served a wonderful lunch with eel,  crab, fruit, and ongeri.  Plus there was yogurt,  mochi, and a chocolate. 

We had almost three hours in the Narita airport. We walked through a few stores.  Then Tim grabbed some food while Clarissa and I headed to the playground.  

This time,  Clarissa was very excited to board the plane.  She immediately wanted to wear her new pink slippers and get her movie started. 

We were all pretty tired by the time we boarded the plane for our 655 flight.  I was hopeful that we would all get some sleep.  We almost did until they turned on the lights for dinner.  

But by the time they turned them back off,  we had all caught a second wind. Clarissa actually lasted until the last 30 minutes of the flight before she fell asleep. It doesn’t seem like a huge deal for a 6.5 hour flight until you consider that we landed about 630am Hawaii time and 130 am Korea time. 

Since Clarissa was asleep,  I had to carry her through customs and immigration.  I was never so excited to see a stroller than when we arrived in baggage claim.  (The only time I didn’t gate check my stroller was the first trip she refused to walk through the airport.  Usually she walks and/or runs and we push an empty stroller.) 

After picking up our rental car,  we decided to head to Walmart since we had several hours before we could check in to our hotel. The only problem was that we didn’t have a GPS and we still needed to buy sim cards for our phones.  So we followed signs for Waikiki and eventually stopped to ask for directions.  

There was a Starbucks attached to Walmart.  We pushed a sleeping Clarissa in her stroller.  Tim got his usual chai tea latte and I ordered a pumpkin spice latte,  which I ended up dumping down the drain in Walmart.  I don’t know why I didn’t know that a latte contains coffee?  I thought it would taste like pumpkin… 

Walmart was pleasant.  It was nice to be able to find things that I needed at a good price in sizes that I understand for a change. 

The Ala Moana Center is a large mall near Walmart and we headed there about the time they opened at 930.  We went to t-mobile to buy sim cards for our phones.  It was hilarious because in Korea,  Tim’s phone is superior to mine.  But my phone was quick to accept the new sim card.  Tim and our t-mobile lady had to mess with his for over 30 minutes to work and even now,  mine is better. 

The mall was very nice and open. The shops were connected over four levels. The walkways were outside so there was a nice breeze. We were too tired to visit everything we wanted,  so we will probably go back another day this week. 

Clarissa slept through the entire shopping excursion until I put her in her car seat for the hotel l.  At that point she had been asleep for 6 hours so she was set. 

We checked into Hale Koa and set up our room.  Then Clarissa and I left to eat lunch and explore while Tim rested and took a shower. There are three pools,  a garden,  playground,  and a beach.  We have so many things we can do without leaving the hotel grounds. 

After we returned,  we showered and spent some time planning our Sunday.  We were all in bed by 6pm.  Jetlag…