Akaka Falls

See the World for Free

The idea here is to TRAVEL THE WORLD regardless of time or budget. It dawned on me one day that even if I had unlimited time and money (which I definitley do not), I still couldn't see everything in the world that I'd like to see--I'm simply not going to live long enough to do it.

But I had a bit of brain wave and soon after the travel envelope was born. This is an actual physical envelope. I typed the name of every country in the world, plus every state in the US on little slips of paper which I then put into the envelope. In the beginning we (myself, my husband, Dave and daugher Catherine) would draw out a slip at random at the beginning of the month and that's where we would go---at least in our minds. We grab some books about the country from the library and put them in our bathroom to look at. We also check out some videos about the country if any. We check it out on googleearth, listen to the music, try the food, maybe even attempt to learn a dance or celebrate a festival.

After the first two years we discovered that even virtual traveling can be tiring, so we travel now whenever I happen to be in the mood.

It's great fun. I especially love it when people I meet have been to the place I'm "visiting" in real life, or get excited and have some virtual adventures of their own. I hope that anyone who comes across this blog will feel welcome to come with us on the trip!

You have a standing reservation to see it all!

Jan 12, 2012


My mother was crazy enough to take all of us--my husband, daughter, dad, two sisters and nephew to Hawaii the week before Christmas 2011. This was sort of Mom's farewell trip--she has pancreatic cancer and we were very lucky that she could make the trip and do as much as she did. Hawaii is an amazing place--the pictures I've seen don't do it justice and I'd like to go back today if I could. This trip I was introduced to the website vrbo.com. It stands for vacation rentals by owner. Great site! We rented a terrific house on the north shore that slept everybody and provided some fun extras that one would never get in a hotel--like a whole closet full of boogie boards and sand toys.

We took the front runner train and then the bus to the plane.  My friend, Debbie Bridge, pulled off a Christmas miracle and got us all on a non-stop flight a day earlier than planned to make things easier on Mom.

Here's the beach just down the block from our house.  It was too rocky to really be a good swimming beach, but Sunset beach was just a few minutes away and this was spectacuarly lovely as you can see.

Plus it came with a cool rope swing that Catherine and Riley loved.

Our house and the two rental cars. I was a little nervous when I first saw it because I thought it looked shabby.  All the houses looked that way, and it was pretty neat inside.

Check out the living room!!

I called this the "trumpet flower" tree. I loved it because it reminded me of Disneyland's tiki room.

Beautiful flowers everywhere.

The neighbors were super nice.  This is their papaya tree. We had never seen one and didn't know what it was. Robbie picked some ripe ones for Mom and also offered to let her pick any fresh herbs from his garden.

Mom trying to get lunch. "Hawaii time" is for real. We ordered burgers and hotdogs--the grill was already fired up, the potato chips were in bags and the drinks in bottles so we could just pick them up and it STILL took about 45 minutes.

The "Tree of Life" sculpture at Pearl Harbor.

We were all moved by Pearl Harbor. Later that night we took a harbor tour and saw the big battleships all decorated for Christmas.
On Dec 18, Catherine's birthday we went to a Christmas craft fair at Waimea Falls park.

Check out the enormous snowcone!

Then we went to Waikiki.

EVERYONE was there.

People really do play the ukelele in Hawaii.

The birthday dinner was at the Oceanarium restaurant with huge tanks of fish and a wonderful buffet.
Part of the dessert bar at the Oceanarium.

We went back to Waimea Falls Park another day. This was my favorite part of the whole trip.

Waimea Christmas tree. I had a hard time remembering it was Christmastime and decorations always caught me by surprise.

There were peacocks on the snack bar terrace.

Awesome pay phone.

The trail up to the waterfall was spectacular.

I have a weakness for moss covered rocks.

Lisa on the trail.

There were neat things to do along the way such as learning to swing the poi balls.

Or shake instruments along with this lady who was a wonderful musician.

A pause on the trail
The famous waterfall.  We only got to swim for a few minutes because the falls were so heavy that it was deemed dangerous and they made us all get out.  It was worth it.

Mom and Lisa at the falls. There was a nice shuttle that took Mom and Dad up so they didn't have to hike.
Mom's favorite part of the trip I think, were the road side stands.  Especially the fried bananas.

I always like to see the common, humble things that are simply a little different from the way they are in Utah, such as this trashcan from a KFC.

The other big hit for me was the Polynesian Cultural Center. Despite this mean looking Santa!
PCC lobby
Waterfalls here too.

A river runs through the PCC.

Everyday a canoe parade floats down the river.  This one represents Fiji.


Hawaiian Royalty.

And of course a gingerbread house by the waterside.

And an igloo with penguins--not looking AT ALL out of place.  Same gigantic snowcones too.

Samoan cooking--the men do the cooking there.  The also demonstrated how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together.  They made it look easy.

Dave as the mighty hunter. And he really was! The spear throwing confirmed some gender stereotypes--the men were MUCH better at it than the women. But it was MY man that hit the bullseye.

One of my lame attempts
Learing to twirl fire sticks.

Thatch with Hawaiian pine trees?
General cool carving.

At the luau.

Of  course there was a snowman at the luau.

We all liked the pineapple drinks and didn't like poi.  Typical tourists.

Another day we went to the Dole Pineapple plantation

I never before pictured how pineapples grow, and it still looks unlikely to me.

Pineapple Dave

Pineapple Catherine

Pineapple kids.
The coolest trees we ever saw. These are not painted. They grow this way.

Hawaiians like their Spam. We skipped this particular treat.

Great train all decked out for Christmas that went around the plantation.

They grow more than just pineapple.  Here, for example, are the chocolate trees.

A helpful sign.

There was a huge gift shop, mostly pineapple related of course, but there was a "pick your own pearl" booth just outside. Catherine came away with a very nice black pearl.

And then there was this not-so famous plantation right next store. It had this very cool sign as you can see, but then it also had...

Pandas, and...

Mushrooms? Well, heck why not?

Later on some of us carried on an additional birthday celebration for Catherine by going to the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.

Fun ceiling!

Of course we made them sing to her here too.

On our last day we went to Sea Life Park. The idea being to do something fun without getting all wet and sandy. It was nice for our last day, but this park is TINY! Unless there's a special reason for going there I'd say skip it.

But we fed the turtles, and saw some fun shows.

And the park itself was right by the ocean. Simply beautiful.

All in all, the trip was a wonderful one. I think we had as much fun as is possible for eight dysfunctional people to have. We took an overnight flight home and arrived back on Christmas Eve.
East or West home IS best.