Friday, March 8, 2013

Aloha...from 2012!

Several of my favorite trips have never made it to my blog.  I find it hard to sum it all up, choose which pictures to share, and which stories to tell.  How do you capture the essence of a trip or the beauty of a place, and confine it to words or an image of a scene.  I can't. But when I look back at how much of my  daily life I record on this blog it doesn't seem right to have some of my favorites left out.  So I'm starting these series of posts knowing I'll not be able to capture what I wish I could. I'm not going to hold back with the pictures. They are part of the story and I want to remember it all. With time the details get fuzzy. I don't remember all the inside jokes or how they came to be.  But I remember where we went, what we did, and how I felt.  I'm hoping as I get going I'll be able to fill in the blanks.  

This Flashback Friday is taking us to Maui,  January 2012.
Poulsens and Madsens had meetings there and the rest of us just tagged along for the ride, cause who hates Maui? Absolutely no one.
When you've got a group of Mormons out on vacation, the night life pretty much consists of dinner and where to get dessert.  We have lots of pictures of us out at dinner...
But don't let our evening activities fool you into thinking we are a dull bunch.  Anything but.   
With the combination of these personalities, there was more wit, sarcasm, and just plain funny than I have ever been in the company of.  
One of our favorite things was Ulelani's Hawaiian Shave Ice.  It was a nightly ritual.  It included lots of flavor sampling, and was always accompanied by "Cherry bomb!"...I don't remember why!
Our trip was during the peak whale watching season, so of course we took a little tour.
I've never seen so many or been so close!
We all took millions of pictures and not a single one comes close to capturing how massive they are
or how crazy it was to watch two of the "teenager" whales "fighting" There were real names for these things but again, I don't remember..
When in Hawaii it's pretty much required to show the hang loose sign any time anyone takes their cameras out. I'm not singling Josh and Jer out here, they're just the first ones, the rest of us are just as guilty.
I don't remember what the deal was with this picture, but it reminded me that several times on this trip I was grateful for the relationship that Tara and Jeff have.  
After our whale watching excursion, we met up with the Van Wags who had spent a week at meetings in a city about 45 minutes away.  They finished off their vacation with us.
We caravanned along the winding coast in search of the start of a hike some locals had told Jeremy about. We didn't know what to expect when we realized that the start of the hike was only marked by this break in the bamboo right on the side of the highway!

Once through the bamboo tunnel we felt like we were in another world!
The hike took us through all kinds of terrain
Through the thick bamboo forrest, over a creek on a makeshift bridge
We scrambled over rocks and under trees
For our efforts we were rewarded by arriving at a series of beautiful waterfalls
and perfect little swimming holes
And along the way were entertained by the Van Wags.  Reed's teasing and Shelley's reactions are the best.  This is such a typical picture of them I love it!
Every once in a while she can get him to behave though
If this was as far as we went we would have been happy enough, but we had heard that the next falls were even better.
How often do you get to be somewhere so beautiful with so many of your closest friends? I felt like such a lucky girl!
We definitely had to work to get to the next set of falls! At one point we had to climb up using a knotted rope for leverage to get up the steep incline
At another point we clambered up a wooden ladder
We spread out a little as we hiked and talked but never got so far away that we couldn't hear each other's laughter 
The second waterfall was pretty but we decided to continue on to the third.  
When we got there we all jumped in
The water was pretty chilly but so refreshing! 
We were all so grateful for the guy that had told us about this awesome little treasure totally off the beaten tourist path!
If we hadn't come we never would have known we had Donkey Kong with us!
With a group as big as ours we kind of took over a place when we went to dinner
After playing hard and being wet during the day it felt great to get cleaned up and put on real clothes each night
There was a story here, I don't remember what but Jeremy's expression cracks me up
All of these friends are so smart and with so many different interests, opinions and backgrounds that there was always great conversation to be had. 
We could all sit around chatting late into the night.  
But this was to be an early night.  Reed had set up a dive for those of us who were scuba certified, and we had to be in a city 45 minutes away from where we were staying by 6 am sharp!
Our day started at o dark thirty 
We were a little delirious
Captain Charlie was a total ladies man (at least in his own mind) and the biggest flirt
We drove out to the dive site in the dark and waited a bit to watch the sun rise 
Once the sun was up we were ready to go down!

Here we are before our second dive.  Rockin the masks...
We got some fun pictures with our underwater camera. Reed, Shelley, Jeremy and Jeff above what looked to me like a field of coral
Jeff and I have been diving a couple times a year for the last 4 years and absolutely love it!
Shelley and Reed got certified a few years before us and go a few times a year as well
I love this shot I got of Shelley on her way up
Things I would never touch above the water or even on a beach aren't off limits when I'm down there swimming along with them.  It makes no sense to me, but thats the way I feel, so I just roll with it.
Shelley soaring just above the ocean floor
There is nothing else I have experienced that compares to the freedom and weightlessness you feel when you dive.  I think it must be similar to being in outer space, except that you're wet.
We had talked Jeremy into doing a discover dive when we were on our Caribbean cruise two years ago.  When he got back home he finished the certification process. Now we just wish we could get Talli to join us!
Finding a sea turtle in its natural habitat is always a thrill!
One of our dives here was a wall dive and those are always my favorite. The depth is humbling and finding things in and along the wall is like looking at the pages of an I Spy book.  Full of countless treasures waiting for you to notice them.
Shelley and I could not believe how loud the whales were while we were diving.  They almost sounded like cows, and it seemed like they were so close to us!
Reed, Shelley, me, Jeff, and Jer, what an incredible start for our day! 
Other random memories from the day...Riding in the trunk space of a car, the option to drive away from real life, giving a semi stranger a ride home, snacks and shave ice at a picnic table where I laughed harder than I had in a long while. Something about smacker lips...?  Waiting forever at the scuba shop...
When we got back to the rest of the group we were ready to just lay around in lounge chairs and soak up some of that Hawaiian sun!
We visited and read books
and had the best view in front us
I love love love these pictures of Jason and Tara leaning on the palm trees
It just looks like what Hawaii should look like in my mind
There was a lot of picture taking this night 
There was a gorgeous sunset 
and it was the Poulsens and Madsens last night before heading home
So maybe they were a little rowdier 
and a little sillier than usual
while on their way to our last dinner with all of us together
It was all fun and games until the guy selling time shares outside asked Jeremy if Reed was his dad! Jeremy will never let him live that one down.
None of us girls are usually okay with drinking our calories, I'd rather eat them, 
but we were feeling a little festive so we ordered the drinks with umbrellas.  The calories were worth it!, YUM!!
But what got Jeremy all googley eyed was the famous Hula Pie
That stuff is so good, its famous!
 After dinner hanging out and checking out the shops, these guys were all riled up
I love these pictures because you can see how much fun they were all having.

Maybe Reed was just trying to prove he wasn't mature enough to be Jeremy's dad!
But I can't come up with a good reason for Tiff  posing as a mannequin in the Brighton store! She is definitely much prettier than any of the models I've seen in any store window though!
It was a great grand finale of a night with the whole crew!  They texted Shelley pictures of the four of them frowning from the airport the next day.
We on the other hand did some more diving! Tara and Jason took a scuba class and then were ready to come out with us! 
Jason had been once before but this was Tara's first time 
They both did great and had fun, I'm hoping we can get them certified for future trips!
That night we had dinner at Bubba Gump's

It's always such a fun casual atmosphere

and I love their coconut shrimp!

No night would be complete without our Ulelani's fix, and this was Tara and Jason's last night with us
We had lunch at the Hula Grill before they had to leave for the airport 
It was so idyllic.  Right on the ocean on a gorgeous sunny day. There was a guy playing the guitar and singing exactly the kind of chill beachy songs you would expect to hear.
We decided to spend the rest of the day on another hike recommended by someone at the hotel.  
Finding it was pretty tricky
 We ended up taking the extra super duper scenic route and eventually making a u-turn to get to our destination
Once again, it was worth the effort
It was gorgeous!
The view was incredible
This picture reminded me of something from the Disney movie Mulan
The clouds started coming in and the longer we hiked, the more moisture there was in the air
When we reached the top we were in the middle of a could
So much for the view from the top!
The way back down made up for it though.  Look at the very middle of the picture there is a rainbow column coming straight up from the ocean.  It was so cool to see!
We passed some other hikers and had them snap a picture of the four of us.  Be glad its from a distance.   
At this point the moisture in the air had us pretty sticky and wet
We had just come down from those clouds back there
The contrast with all the lush green was awesome
This last little bit of the trail was the last of our Maui adventures.  
We ate dinner at a really yummy fish place that I would go back to in a heartbeat if I could remember the name of it, but it was full of all the locals. That's how you know its good! Early the next day Jeff and I were on our way home.  
We got this text from Shelley and Reed when we were on the plane.  I think this is how we ALL felt when this trip was over.  Seriously one the best weeks ever! Aloha!

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