Friday, May 26, 2017

Dreaming of Hawaii


There are three parts to every event:  First, the preparations.  Next, the actual experience of it.   And lastly, the remembering.   The preparation part is exciting and fun as you dream of how it will be, think through practicalities, choose vacation clothes, etc.  Then you go and experience everything.  It's almost surreal that it is actually happening!  Afterwards, you look at all your photos and treasure all the many memories.  Each part is special.  I wanted to blog so I can truly remember this trip and how special it was.

Last December we asked the kids if they would like to go to Hawaii for 9 days with us for our anniversary.   The answer was a resounding YES! The boys all put in for a week off of work, and the preparations began.   Nowadays, you can pretty much book an entire trip in minutes on your computer or even on your smartphone.   So, I did some research on my own and then decided to visit my friend's travel agency to see if anything better was out there to be had.   Sure enough, they discovered many perks to go along with our accommodations, so we went with them.  I'm glad we did.  They really took care of every detail for us!  I decided to book the airfare separate, as the prices were high at the time they booked our trip.  I watched carefully until a sizeable dip in prices occurred, and booked it.  In the end we actually flew one way on Virgin, and the other way on United, as those were the best times/prices for us.  Incidentally, if you ever plan a trip to the Aulani, my tip is to get yourself the Disney Visa card.  I had one and my travel agency was able to tap into several significant benefits for cardholders!  It even has no annual fee. 

I have to admit, my first inclination was to go to Maui, and even return to the spot of all of our honeymoons, the incomparable Hyatt Regency on Ka'anapali Beach.   It's just our favorite spot, and that strand of beach is sure hard to beat.  Then Emma suggested the Aulani, which is on Oahu.  I'm not a huge Oahu fan (compared to Maui that is), but I started looking into the resort.  I discovered it was on its own little cove in Ko Olina.  It looked so amazing and had so much to offer. I liked the fact that we could enjoy resort life AND get a large family room/villa that we could all stay in together.   At the Hyatt, we would each have had our own basic hotel  room.  The most obvious pro to your own room is, well of course, privacy.   But, the pros of the villa were numerous -- a good size kitchen and living room, each of the kids could have their own large bedroom with their own bathroom for their families, and there was a place for Rich and I to sleep in the living room, and an additional bathroom for us.  In the villa, we could all be together at night when the babies went to sleep, instead of isolated in our own rooms.   Also, we as grandparents wanted to be easily accessible to help at anytime, and especially at night if the kids wanted to grab a little date out.  So we all agreed the villa would be the way to go.  And to add to the appeal, it was about 1/3 cheaper than 3 separate rooms would have been.

Well, the villa was the way to go!!  We took full advantage of that kitchen!  Stephanie and I found a Whole Foods market on the way to the hotel, and when we got to the resort we filled up the fridge and cupboards with lots of healthy food.   We didn't plan to eat every meal in the room, but we did plan to cook a few nights and also got breakfast and snack foods.   I cannot tell you how much of a blessing that kitchen was.  We could get up in the morning, make  coffee and tea without leaving the room (and have our cream!), and everyone could eat breakfast on their own schedule.  Most days, we ate at the pool for lunch and cooked dinner, which I thought was a nice balance.  Dinners we kept super simple --Rich would barbecue meat, we would steam some veggies and/or make a salad, and they even had a rice cooker!  Super easy, and I felt much better than if I had been eating every meal out (I didn't think of that benefit at all, but what a blessing to be able to have eggs or yogurt, fruit and granola instead of a big heavy breakfast or junky muffin. Also no waiting with babies to be served food at a restaurant - a huge bonus).  Not to mention, the villa was SO well appointed-  a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, two patios with a view, a large dining room table big enough for us all and they even gave us high chairs and playpens for the kids.  And maid service!!  The Aulani was so attentive --anytime you needed anything they brought it right up.  

And the grounds -- OH MY!!  So GRAND!!   Even though the Aulani is a Disney resort, you were only subtly reminded.  There is a place to meet characters but it isn't front and center.  Of course if that is your thing you can go to the Character breakfast, which we did (and I highly recommend).  Overall, the resort was just very classy and very Hawaiian.   And such a huge place - it took me awhile to get oriented!  A huge open air lobby with shops, many winding paths, pools, big slides, a long, lazy river to inner-tube down, the gorgeous green landscape, the cove with gentle waves and sandy beach -- it was just amazing to behold.   There were little food stands everywhere offering shave ice, dole whip, easy to grab or order food, as well as poolside food/drink service.  On the beach there were ample chairs, lounges, and umbrellas, and if you wanted a boogie board or sand toys, they were complimentary to use.  A path winded around the cove to the next cove, which was perfect if you wanted to take a picturesque walk or exercise.

So... to be honest, the best thing wasn't being in Hawaii or even getting to go to the Aulani.  Don't get me wrong -- those were great aspects of our trip, but the best part was just the extended time we could spend with our kids and grandkids.   It is truly such a joy to spend time with them.  We love them all so much.  Rich and I think it's great to be at a place in life where we can all just enjoy each other.  The hard, tiring years of raising children is over.  We love who they have become, we love their dear spouses, and we adore our grandbabies!  We are now enjoying the friendship phase of our relationship with the kids, which was always our hope!  We also are so thankful that our kids enjoy being with us, something we don't take for granted.  We just kept thanking them for coming with us!  It meant the world to us.

So, I just can't possibly put all the photos in order -- I think I'll just have to post my favorites with captions!

Next post -- photos!

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