FRIDAY On Friday, June 13th, we woke up around 4:30am (after very little sleep due to excitement and anxiety the night before). Gregg's dad picked us up at 4:45 to head to the airport. At this point, I still had zero idea where we were going (I was kept in the dark completely by choice - I love a good surprise)! I had assumed up until this point that I would find out our final destination once we got to our gate at the airport, but Gregg had other plans in mind! Once he checked us in at the kiosk (he didn't want me to see the final destination because it was only at this point that I learned we would have a layover somewhere (still didn't know where)! Once he checked us in, while we were walking upstairs to security, he told me that there was an "unintended surprise" that he had just learned about the previous week. I had apparently mentioned that our friends Kara and Josh (from Wyoming) just happened to be leaving on their anniversary vacation on the same day as us. He said that he had then messaged Josh on Facebook to find out if our paths would cross because we, too, would be having a layover in Denver. I was SO excited to find out that not only did we have a similar layover, but that Kara (who also didn't know the destination of their anniversary vacation, but supposedly did know the destination of ours) had no idea that we had a layover at all (Gregg told her we had a direct flight), let alone in Denver, so I would get to surprise her at the airport! It was then that Gregg told me that Josh and Kara were going on a cruise of the Bahamas, so we were going somewhere west and they were traveling east!
After a four hour flight from Philly to Denver (flying over the Rocky Mountains was really cool), we landed and got off the plane while Gregg texted Josh to find out where they were hanging out on their layover. By this point, Kara was pretty confused because I had texted her that I still didn't know where I was going - as far as she knew, I had a direct flight, so how could I possibly get on a plane and not know where I was going? Finally she texted to ask where I was - and I told her to turn around - I was right behind her! THAT was a fun reunion! After many hugs, the two of us excitedly chatted about our impending trips when our husbands slyly looked at each other and said, "Do you want to tell them or do you want me to tell them?," as we confusedly looked around, back and forth between the two! Finally, Gregg and Josh said to us, "Well, we aren't really going either of the places that you two think each other is going. We're all going on a cruise...together...in Hawaii!" and then they pulled out our Disney Aulani brochures to show us where we would be staying that night!" Apparently Kara and I had mentioned TWO YEARS AGO about how we would both be celebrating ten year anniversaries the same summer & we should totally go together - and our husbands who didn't know each other at all (but were Facebook friends because we kept telling our husbands that they were so similar and would hit it off) listened to us and planned this elaborate surprise. ABSOLUTE CRAZINESS. AWESOME HUSBANDS.
|Aloha! Welcome to Hawaii!|
|In the SpeediShuttle, ready to head to Aulani!|
|Aulani and its gorgeous landscape|
|The beautiful Aulani resort|
|Selfie from the balcony in our room at Aulani|
|Hanging ten with Goofy at Aulani|
|Before breakfast at Aulani|
|Toes in the waters of the Pacific Ocean|
|I could get used to this!|
|Kona Shaved Ice! Yum!|
|Leis and flowers!|
|Official pre-boarding photo|
|Official boarding photo with Uncle Sam|
SUNDAY On Sunday, June 15th, I woke up in the hotel (well, I never really slept, to be honest! I'm such a worrier!) around 4:30 am. Since I wasn't sleeping, I knew it would be a great time to skype with the girls since it would be 10:30am there. In their usual fashion, they weren't too interested in sitting in front of a computer to talk to me, but since it was the first time we actually got to talk to them since we left, they sat for a moment or two. Once Gregg got up, we took a walk around Honolulu for a while & then took the hotel shuttle to the airport to wait for our flight. We took a 45 minute Island Air flight to Maui, which we were told, should be seen as a plus to the obvious downside, since many people pay good money for an aerial view of Maui - it really was beautiful! Maui had a cool little airport & we picked up a couple of local travel magazines before we headed out to catch a taxi. Our taxi driver was a really cool guy who chatted with us on the short drive to the pier. Once we got there, we asked the taxi driver about things to do and he told us about a nearby strip mall, so we took a little walk and discovered the Maui Mall. I grabbed some lunch while Gregg ate some crackers. As we were sitting with our food & relaxing, the doctor spotted us from across the way (he must've been out doing some shopping on his time off!) and stopped over to see how Gregg was doing. He commented that Gregg looked much, MUCH better and was glad about that.
|TIRED but extremely happy to be in Maui!|
|Our ship, the Pride of America, from the pier in Maui|
|SO happy to be on the ship our first night!|
|"Hey Julius, can you come do something weird for us?"|
|Bonkers for Bingo!|
|Besties in Maui|
|Beautiful little beach in Maui|
|Our koa wood anniversary bands|
|Awful pic, but the only one we have of us from that evening at Moderno Brazilian Steakhouse|
|Josh and Kara at Moderno|
|Ready to watch the show at the Hollywood Theater|
|Hilo excursion day!|
|Harvey, our awesome bus driver & tour guide|
|Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory|
|Pineapple growing in the gardens behind the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory|
|Gorgeous flower growing in the gardens behind the Mauna Loa macadamia nut factory|
|In front of a steaming volcanic crater at the Jagger Museum at Volcano National Park|
|Gregg atop a lava rock mountain|
|The entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube|
|Josh, Kara, Gregg, & me at the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube|
|Inside the Thurston Lava Tube|
|Just one of the many beautiful orchids at the orchid greenhouse we visited|
|The beautiful Rainbow Falls|
|Gregg and I at the beautiful Rainbow Falls|
|A half-blossom flower|
|A little dressed up for dinner!|
|On the tender boat to Kona!|
|Kona surfer girl|
|Relaxing under a tree in Kona|
|Gregg's view while relaxing under a tree in Kona|
|View of the ship from Kona|
|A rocky little beach in Kona|
|A Bird of Paradise flower in Kona|
|Our Hibachi chef, Ryan|
|Selfie before our Hibachi dinner|
|Dressed up for our Hibachi dinner|
THURSDAY On Thursday, June 19th, we spent our first day in Kauai. We headed up to the buffet & took in the amazingly beautiful view of the mountainous Kauai landscape with our breakfast. We checked out a map and discovered that there was a beach right off of the port in Lihue, so we put on our suits and decided to make this our beach day (since we hadn't yet had one)! We walked just a short walk through the Nawiliwili Park (where we saw tons of chickens that roam free, just like squirrels or ducks would in our parks back home) to the Kalapaki Beach. There was a perfect shady spot under a tree where we parked ourselves & people-watched all morning & into the early afternoon. We saw people getting professional photographs done on the beach and rocks, a kids' Jr. Lifeguard camp going on, paddle boarders, surfers, fishermen, you name it! After lazing around for several hours, we headed back to the ship, grabbed a quick snack, & then got ourselves ready to meet the bus for that evening's luau at the Smith Family Gardens. We were all really excited about this experience.
|"Our beach" in Kauai|
|Toes in the sand of Kauai|
|Kauai chicken (and chicks)!|
|Gregg living it up in Kauai|
|Selfie in Kauai|
|"Our beach" in Kauai|
|Selfie on board the bus to the luau|
|All dressed up for the luau|
|All dressed up for the luau|
|Unearthing the pig at the Imu Ceremony|
|Mai Tai - bottom's up!|
|Gregg's hula girl!|
|The light house and golf course that we walked to|
|View of the light house and golf course from the ship|
|View of "our beach" from the light house/golf course area|
|Crazy koi fish at a hotel|
|Setting sail towards the NaPali Coast!|
|NaPali Coast, Kauai|
|A rainbow at the NaPali Coast of Kauai|
|Sunset as we leave the NaPali Coast|
|The gorgeous NaPali Coast, Kauai|
SATURDAY On Saturday, June 21st, we woke up bright and early to start our last (LONG!) day in Hawaii! We ate breakfast (a tiny bit earlier than usual) while docked in Honolulu. We had to be off the ship by 8:30am, so after breakfast, we grabbed our luggage, said farewell to our rooms, & away we went! The boys had one more excursion planned for our trip to help fill the time before our red-eye flight that night. We loaded our luggage onto the tour bus ("Captain V" was our driver this time - he loved his SPAM!) and headed over to tour Pearl Harbor.
|On the bus to Pearl Harbor|
|USS Arizona Memorial|
|USS Arizona Memorial|
|The American Flag proudly flies over the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor|
|Part of the USS Arizona still visible through the water, under the memorial|
|Dedication Plaque at the Pearl Harbor Memorial|
|Gregg with the World's Largest Aloha Shirt at Hilo Hattie's in Honolulu|
|King Kamehameha in downtown Honolulu|
Anyway, we sat at the Burger King for a while just chatting & trying to kill some more time. At around 7:00, we meandered over to our gate to charge our phones and WAIT. We boarded the plane on schedule, but then had to wait for everyone to load their carry-ons & switch seats (so annoying!), so our flight probably actually left about 20 minutes late. We all did our best to get a little bit of sleep (I think we all succeeded at least a tiny bit) on the 6.5hr flight home.
|Twinning in the airport before the long flight home!|
SUNDAY Our flight arrived in Denver around 8am, so we had about an hour and a half layover before we needed to board for our flight to Philadelphia. Kara and Josh came with us as we waited & we started formulating plans to somehow get together next summer and to then make it a yearly summer get-together tradition! After some hugs and tears, Gregg and I boarded our flight to Philly & started on the final leg of our trek home. Amazing friends. Amazing memories. Amazing husbands. Amazing trip!
Extra little memories (that didn't really go anywhere else)
- Tiny Bubbles - a two-man ukelele band on the 11th deck sang this song, so we had it in our heads constantly!
- This is Aloha - a popular song on the islands apparently. We heard it at the luau, as well as on the last day in one of the shops
- Miley Cyrus look-alike - we constantly spotted this one girl on the ship who (with her sunglasses on anyway) looked just like Miley Cyrus...from the crazy two-toned haircut, spiky ankle boots & crop tops to ruby red lipstick & super-short shorts!
- gold-digger - There was a couple that we saw repeatedly on the ship. We kept hoping that she was his granddaughter, as he looked about 80 and she looked about 30 (or maybe she just aged really well), but that just seemed highly unlikely!
- Cruise director, Marky Marc - he hosted an *exciting* morning show called Marky Marc in the Morning that talked about the day's itinerary on the ship & "entertained" us with really awful jokes!
- there were no clocks in our rooms (and no outlets to plug in our phones near the bed), so we never knew what time it was in the middle of the night. Josh and Kara told us about how there was a channel on our TVs that was a live-feed broadcast from a camera on one of the decks of the ship - if we woke up and it was still dark on the TV, we just went back to sleep, but if the sun was up, we were too (because we couldn't really trust our jet-lagged bodies to tell us when it was actually time to get up)!